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Full text of "The autobiography of Goethe : truth and poetry, from my own life"

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BOOK 832.6.G554 ZDYO v.2 c. 1 
GOETHE # AUTOBIOGRAPHY TRUTH AND 
POETRY 



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Digitized by tine Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 

Boston Library Consortium IVIember Libraries 



http://www.archive.org/details/autobiographyofg02goet 



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THE p-r 

AUTO-BIOGEAPHY OF GOETHE. ^^^ 

TKUTH AND POETEY: FEOM MY OWN LIFE. ,aA 

VOLUME II., CONTAINING 

BOOKS XIY.-XX. 

TOGETHER WITH 

LETTEES EEOM SWITZEELAND, 
TEATELS IN ITALY. 



TRANSLATED BY 

THE KEY. A. J. W. MOMISON, M.A. 



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COVENT GAEDEN. 

1881. 




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STAMFOBD STREET AND CHAEIKG CROSS. 



11 ill. 



CONTENTS. 



AUTO-BIOGEAPHY— Pabt the Thied (^Continued). page 

FouETEENTH BooK. Lenz — Lavater and Basedow — Cologne 1 

Fifteenth Book. Moravians — "The Wandering Jew" — 
Zimmermann — ^' Clavigo" 32 

Paet the Fourth. 

Sixteenth Book. Spinoza— Jung (Stilling) 62 

Seventeenth Book. Lili — Betrothal — Ulrioh von Hutten 79 

Eighteenth Book. Hans Sachs — The Stolbergs — Switzer- 
land 104 

Nineteenth Book. Switzerland— Lavater — "Egmont" ... 130 

Twentieth Book. Kraus — Daemonic Influence — Heidelberg 
— ^Departure for Weimar 153 

LETTEES FROM SWITZERLAND 169 

TRAVELS IN ITALY 235 



TEUTH AND POETEY; 

FROM MY OWK LIFE. 



PAET THE TBIRJ)--Conti7zued. 

FOURTEENTH BOOK. 

With the movement which was spreading among the pubhc, 
now arose another of greater importance perhaps to the 
author, as it took place in his immediate circle. 

His early friends who had read, in manuscript, those poet- 
ical compositions which were now creating so much sensa- 
tion, and therefore regarded them almost as their own, gloried 
in a success which they had boldly enough predicted. This 
number was augmented by new adherents, especially by such 
as felt conscious of a creative power in themselves, or were 
desirous of calling one forth and cultivating it. 

Among the-former, Lenz was the most active and he deported 
himself strangely enough. I have already sketched the outward 
appearance of this remarkable mortal, and have touched affec- 
tionately on his talent for humor. 1 wiR now speak of his 
character, in its results rather than descriptively, because it 
w^ould be impossible to follow him through the mazy course of 
his Hfe, and to transfer to these pages a full exhibition of his 
peculiarities. 

Generally known is that self-torture which in the lack of all 
outward grievances, had now become fashionable, and which 
disturbed the very best minds. That which gives but a tran- 
sient pain to ordinary men who never themselves meditate on 
that which they seek to banish from their minds, was, by the 
better order, acutely observed, regarded, and recorded in 
books, letters, and diaries. But now men united the strictest 
moral requisitions on themselves and others with an excessive 
negligence in action ; and vague notions arising from this half- 
self-knoAvledge misled them into the strangest habits aiid out- 
VoL. 11. B 



2 TKTJTH AND POETEY ; mOM MY (. VVN LIPE. 

of-tlie-way practices. But this painful work of self-contempla- 
tion was justified by the rising empirical pyschology which, 
while it was not exactly willing to pronounce everything that 
produces inward disquiet to be wicked and objectionable, still 
could not give it an unconditional approval, and thus was origi- 
nated an eternal and inappeasable contest. In carrying on, 
and sustaining this conflict, Lenz surpassed all the other idlers 
and dabblers w^ho were occupied in mining into their own 
souls, and thus he suffered from the universal tendency of the 
times, which was said to have been let loose by Werther; but 
a personal peculiarity distinguished him from all the rest. 
While they were undeniably frank and honest creatures, he had 
a decided inclination to intrigue, and, indeed, to intrigue for its 
own sake, without having in view any special object, any rea- 
sonable, attainable, personal object. On the contrary, it was 
always his custom to propose to himself something whimsical, 
which served, for that very reason, to keep him constantly occu- 
pied. In this way all his life long he was an imposter in his 
imagination ; his love, as well as his hate, was imaginary ; he 
dealt with his thoughts and feelings in a wilful manner, so as 
always to have something to do. He endeavoured to give 
reality to his sympathies and antipathies by the most perverse 
means, and always himself destroyed his own work. Thus he 
never benefited any one whom he loved, and never injured 
any one whom he hated. In general he seemed to sin only to 
punish himself, and to intrigue for no purpose but to graft a 
new fable upon an old one. 

His talent, in which tenderness, facility, and subtlety 
rivalled each other, proceeded from a real depth, from an inex- 
haustible creative power, but was thoroughly morbid with aU 
its beauty. Such qualities are precisely the most difficult to 
judge. It is impossible to overlook great features in his 
works — a lovely tenderness steals along through pieces of 
caricature so odd and so silly that they can hardly be par- 
doned, even in a humor so thorough and unassuming, and 
such a genuine comic talent. His days were made up of mere 
nothings, to which his nimble fancy could ever give a meaning, 
and he was the better able to squander hours away, since, with 
a happy memory, the time which he did employ in reading, 
was always fruitful, and enriched his original mode of thought 
with various materials. 



LENZ. S 

He had been sent to Strasburg with some Livonian gentle- 
men, and a more unfortunate choice of a Mentor could not 
have been made. The elder baron went back for a time 
to his native country, and left behind him a lady to. whom 
he was tenderly attached. In order to keep at a distance the 
second brother, who was paying cornet to the same lady, as 
well as other lovers, and to preserve the precious heart for liis 
absent friend, Lenz determined either to feign that he had 
fallen in love with the beauty, or if you please, actually to do so. 
He carried through this plan with the most obstinate adhe- 
rence to the ideal he had formed of her, without bemg aware 
that he, as well as the others, only served her for jest and pas- 
time. So much the better for him! For him, too, it was 
nothing but a game which could only be kept up by her meeting 
him in the same spirit, now attracting him, now repelling him, 
now encouraging him, and now slighting him. We may be 
sure that if he had become aware of the way the affair some- 
times went on, he would, with great delight, have congratulated 
himself on the discovery. 

As for the rest he, like his pupils, lived mostly with ojSicers 
of the garrison, and thus the strange notions he afterwards 
brought out in his comedy Die Soldaten(T]ie Soldiers) probably 
originated. At any rate, this early acquaintance with military 
men had on him the peculiar effect, that he forthwith fancied 
himself a great j udge of military matters . And yet from time to 
time he really studied the subject in detail with such effect, 
that some years afterward he prepared a long memorial to the 
French Minister of War, from which he promised himself the 
best results. The faults of the department were tolerably 
well pointed out, but on the other hand, the remedies were 
ridiculous and impracticable. However, he cherished a con- 
viction that he should by this means gain great influence at 
court, and was anything but grateful to those of his friends 
who, partly by reasoning, and partly by active opposition, 
compelled him to suppress, and afterwards to burn, this fan- 
tastic work, after it had been f^ir-copied, put under cover with 
a letter, and formally addi"essed. 

First of all by word of mouth, and afterwards by letter, ne 
had confided to me all the mazes of his tortuous movements 
with regard to the lady above mentioned. The poetry which 
he could infase into the commonest incidents ofteu astonished 

B 2 



4 TRUTH A^D poetry; TEOM MY OWN LIFE, 

me, so that I urged liim to employ his talents in turning the 
essence of this long-winded adventure to account, and to make 
a little romance out of it. But that was not in his line ; he 
could only succeed when he poured himself out for ever upon 
details, and span an endless thread without any purpose. 
Perhaps it will be possible at a future time, to deduce from 
these premises some account of his life up to the time that 
he became a kmatic. At present I confine myself to what is 
immediately connected with the subject in hand. 

Hardly had Gotz von Berlichingen appeared when Lenz 
sent me a prolix essay written on small draught paper, such 
as he commonly used, without leaving the least margin, either 
at the top, the bottom, or the sides. It was entitled, Ueher 
unsere Ehe, (On our Marriage,) and were it still in exist- 
ence, might enlighten us much more now than it then did me, 
when I was as yet in the dark as to him and his character. The 
leading purpose of this long manuscript was to compare my 
talent with his own : now he seemed to make himself inferior 
to me, now to represent himself as my equal; but it was all 
done with such humorous and neat turns of expression that I 
gladly received the view he intended to convey, and all the more 
so as I did, in fact, rate very high the gifts ne possessed, and 
was always urging him to concentrate himself out of his aimless 
rambling, and to use his natural capacities with some artistical 
control. I replied in the most friendly way to this confiden- 
tial communication, and as he had encouraged the greatest 
intimacy between us, (as the whimsical title indicates,) from 
that time forward I made known to him everything I had 
either finished or designed. In return he successively sent me 
his manuscripts : Der Hofmeistcr, (Private Tutor.) D^r neue 
Menoza, (The New Menoza,) Die Soldaten, (The Soldiers,) the 
imitations of Plautus, and the translation from the English 
which I have before spoken of as forming the supplement to 
his remarks on the theatre. 

While reading the latter, I was somewhat struck to find him 
m a laconic preface speaking in such a way as to convey the 
idea that this essay, which contained a vehement attack upon 
the reguiar theatre, had, many years before, been read to a 
society of the friends of literature at a time, in short, when 
Gotz was not yet written. That there should have been among 
Lenz's acquaintances at Strasburg a literary circle of which I 



KLINGEB. 



was ignorant seemed somewhat problematical ; liowever I let 
it pass, and soon procured publishers for this and his other 
writings, without having the least suspicion that he had se- 
lected me as the chief object of his fanciful hatred, and as the 
mark of an odd and whimsical persecution. 

In passing, I will, for the sake of the sequel, just mention 
a good fellow, who, though of no extraordinary gifts, was 
yet one of our number. He was called Wagner, and was 
first a member of our Strasburg society and then of that at 
Frankfort — a man not without spirit, talent, and education. 
He appeared to be a striving sort of person, and was therefore 
welcome. He, too, attached himself to me, and as I made no 
secret of my plans, I shewed to him as well as others my 
sketch of the Faust, especially the catastrophe of Gretchen. 
He caught up the idea and used it for a tragedy. Die Kindes- 
morderin, (The Infanticide.) It was the first time that any 
one had stolen from me any of my plans. It vexed me, 
though I bore him no iU will on that account. Since then 
I have often enough sufiered such robberies and anticipations 
of my thoughts, and with my dilatoriness and habit of gos- 
sipping about the many things that I was ever planning and 
imagining, I had no right to complain. 

If on account of the great effect which contrasts produce, 
orators and poets gladly make use of them even at the 
expense of seeking them out and bringing them from a distance, 
it must be the more agreeable to the present writer that such 
a decided contrast presents itself, in his speaking of Klinger 
after Lenz. They were cotemporaries, and in youth labored 
together. But Lenz, as a transient meteor, passed but for a 
moment over the horizon of German literature, and suddenly 
vanished without leaving any trace behind. Klinger, on the 
other hand, has maintained his position up to the present 
time as an author of influence, and an active man of business. 
Of him I will now speak, as far as it is necessary, without 
following any farther a comparison, which suggests itself; for 
it has not been in secret that he has accomplished so much 
and exercised so great an influence, but both his works and 
his influence are still remembered, far and near, and are 
highly esteemed and appreciated. 

Klinger' s exterior, for I always like best to begin with 
this, was very prepossessing. Nature had given him a tall. 



6 TRUTH AISTD POETRY; mOM MY OWN LIFE. 

slender, Avell-built form, and regular features. He was careful 
of his appearance, always dressed neatly, and might justly 
have passed for the smartest member of our little society. 
His manners Avere neither forward nor repulsive, and when 
not agitated by an inward storm, mild and gentle. 

In girls, we love what they are, but in young men what 
they promise to be, and thus I was Klinger's friend as soon as I 
made his acquaintance. He recommended himself by a pure 
good nature, and an unmistakeable decision of character won 
him confidence. From youth upward, everything had tended 
to incline him to seriousness. Together with a beautiful and 
excellent sister, he had to provide for a mother, who in her 
widowhood had need of such children for her support. He 
had made himself everything that he was, so that no one 
could find fault with a trait of proud independence which 
was apparent in his bearing. Strong natural talents, such as 
are common to all well-endowed men, a facile power of appre^ 
hension, an excellent memory, and great fluency of speech, 
he possessed in a high degree ; but he appeared to regard all 
these as of less value than the firmness and perseverance 
which were likewise innate with him, and which circumstances 
had abundantly strengthened. 

To a young man of such a character, the works of Rousseau 
'vere especially attractive. Emile was his chief text-book, and 
its sentiments, as they had an universal influence over the cul- 
tivated world, were peculiarly fruitful with him, and influenced 
him more than others. For he too was a child of nature, — 
he too had worked his way upwards. What others had been 
compelled to cast away, he had never possessed; relations 
of society from which they would have to emancipate them- 
selves, had never fettered him. Thus might he be regarded as 
one of the purest disciples of that gospel of nature, and in view 
of his own persevering efforts and his conduct as a man and 
son, he might well exclaim, "All is good as it comes from the 
hands of nature!" But the conclusion, "All is corrupted in 
the hands of man!" was also forced upon him by adverse 
experience. It was not with himself that he had to struggle, 
but beyond and out of himself with the conventional world, 
from whose fetters the Citizen of Geneva designed to set us 
free. And as from the circumstances of his youth the struggle 
he had to undergo had often been difiicult and painful, he had 



KLIN GEE. 



been driven back upon himself too violently to attain a 
thoroughly serene and joyous development. On the contrary, 
as he had had to force his way against an opposing world, a 
trait of bitterness had crept into his character, which he after- 
wards in some degree fed and cherished, but for the most part 
strove against and conquered. 

His works, as far as I am able to recall them, bespeak a 
strong understanding, an upright mind, an active imagination, 
a ready perception of the varieties of human natm^e, and a 
characteristic imitation of generic differences. His girls and 
boys are open and amiable, his youths ardent, his men plain 
and intelligent, the personages whom he paints in an un- 
favorable light are not overdrawn; he is not wanting in cheer- 
fulness and good humour, in wit and happy notions ; allegories 
and symbols are at his command ; he can entertain and please 
us, and the enjoyment would be still purer if he did not here 
and there mar both for himself and us, his gay, pointed jesting 
by a touch of bitterness. Yet this it is which makes him 
what he is. The modes of living and of writing become as 
varied as they are, from the fact that every one wavers theoreti- 
cally between Imowledge and error, and practically between 
creation and destruction. 

Klinger should be classed with those who have formed them- 
selves for the world, out of themselves, out of their own souls 
and understandings. Because this takes place in and among a 
greater mass, and because among themselves they use with 
power and effect, an intelligible language flowing out of uni- 
versal nature and popular peculiarities, such men always cherish 
a warm hostility to all forms of the schools, especially if these 
forms, separated from their living origin, have degenerated 
into phrases, and have thus lost altogether their first, fresh 
significance. Such men almost invariably declare war against 
new opinions, views, and systems, as well as against new events 
and rising men of importance who announce or produce great 
changes. They are however not so much to blame on this 
account ; their opposition is not unnatural when they see all 
that wl ich they are indebted to for their own existence and 
culture menaced with ruin and in great danger. 

In an energetic character this adherence to its own views 
becomes the more worthy of respect when it has been main- 
tained throughout a life in the world and in business, and when 



8 TRUTH AisU» poetry; from my own life. 

a mode of dealing with current events, wliicli to many might 
seem rough and arbitrary, being employed at the right time, 
has led surely to the desired end. This was the case with 
Klinger ; without pliability (which was never the virtue of the 
bom citizen of the empire,*) he had nevertheless risen, steadily, 
and honorably, to posts of great importance, had managed to 
maintain his position, and as he advanced in the approbation 
and favor of his highest patrons, never forgot his old friends, or 
the path he had left behind. Indeed, through all degrees of ab- 
sence and separation, he laboured pertinaciously to preserve the 
most complete constancy of remembrance, and it certainly de- 
serves to be remarked that in his coat of arms though adorned 
by the badges of several orders, he, like another Willigis, did 
not disdain to perpetuate the tokens of his early life. 

It was not long before I formed a connection with Lava- 
TER. Passages of my "Letter of a Pastor to his Colleagues" 
had greatly struck him, for much of it agreed perfectly with 
his own views. With his never-tiring activity our corres- 
pondence soon became lively. At the time it commenced he 
was making preparations for his larger work on Physiognomy, 
—the introduction to which had abeady been laid before the 
public. He called on all the world to send him drawings 
and outlines, and especially representations of Christ; and, 
although I could do as good as nothing in this way, he 
nevertheless insisted on my sending him a sketch of the 
Saviour such as I imasrined him to look. Such, demands foi 
the impossible gave occasion for jests of many kinds, for 1 
had no other way of defending myself against his peculiarities 
but by bringing forward my own. 

The number of those who had no faith in Physiognomy, or, 
at least, regarded it as uncertain and deceptive was very great; 
and several who had a liking for Lavater felt a desire to try 
him, and, if possible, to play him a trick. He had ordered of 
a painter in Frankfort, who was not without talent, the profiles 
of several well known persons. Lavater's agent ventured upon 
the jest of sending Bahrdt's portrait as mine, which soon 
brought back a merry but thundering epistle, full of all kinds 
of expletives and asseverations that this was not my picture,— 
together with everything that on such an occasion Lavater 
would naturally have to say in confirmation of the doctrine of 
* That is to say, a native of one of the Imperial cities. 



XAVATER. ^ 

Physiognomy. My true likeness, which was sent afterwards, 
he allowed to pass more readily, but even here the opposition 
into which he fell both with painters and with individuals 
showed itself at once. The former could never work for him 
faithfully and sufficiently ; the latter, whatever excellences they 
might have, came always too far short of the idea which he 
entertained of humanity and of men to prevent his being some- 
what repelled by the special characteristics w^hich constitute 
the personality of the individual. 

The conception of Humanity which had been formed in 
himself and in his own humanity, was so completely akin to 
the living image of Christ which he cherished within him, 
that it was impossible for him to understand how a man could 
live and breathe without at the same time being a Christian. 
My own relation to the Christian religion lay merely in my 
sense and feeling, and I had not the slightest notion of that 
physical affinity to which Lavater inclined. I was, therefore, 
vexed by the importunity, with which a man so full of mind 
and heart, attacked me, as well as Mendelssohn and others, 
maintaining that every one must either become a Christian 
with him, a Christian of his sort, or else that one must bring 
him over to one's own way of thinking, and convince him of 
precisely that in which one had found peace. This demand, 
so directly opposed to that liberal spirit of the world, to which 
I was more and more tending, did not have the best effect upon 
me. All unsuccessful attempts at conversion leave him who has 
been selected for a proselyte stubborn and obflm-ate, and this 
was especially the case vnth me when Lavater at last came 
out with the hard dilemma — "Either Christian or Atheist!" 
Upon this I declared that if he would not leave me my own 
Christianity as I had hitherto cherished it, I could readily 
decide for Atheism, particularly as I saw that nobody knew 
precisely what either meant. 

This correspondence, vehement as it was, did not disturb 
the good terms we were on. Lavater had an incredible 
patience, pertinacity, and endm-ance ; he was confident in his 
theory, and, with his determined plan to propagate his con- 
victions in the world, he was willing by waiting and mild- 
ness to effect what he could not accomplish by force. In 
short, he bdonged to the few fortunate men whose outward 
vocation perfectly harmonizes with the inner one, and whose 



10 TRUTH AND POETBY; mOM MY OWN LI^E. 

earliest culture coinciding in all points with their subsequent 
pursuits, gives a natural development to their faculties. 
Born with the most delicate moral susceptibilities, he had 
chosen for himself the clerical profession. He received the 
necessary instruction, and displayed various talents, but vdth- 
out inclining to that degree of culture which is called learned. 
He also, though born so long before, had, like ourselves, been 
caught by the spirit of Freedom and Nature which belonged to 
the time, and which whispered flatteringly in every ear, " You 
have materials and solid power enough within yourself, without 
much outward aid; all depends upon your developing them 
properly." The obligation of a clergyman to work upou men 
morally, in the ordinary sense, and religiously in the higher 
sense, fully coincided with his mental tendencies. His marked 
impulse, even as a youth, was to impart to others, and to excite 
in them, his own just and pious sentiments, and his favorite oc- 
cupation was the observation of himself and of his fellow-men. 
The former was facilitated, if not forced upon him, by an in- 
ternal sensitiveness ; the latter by a keen glance, which could 
quickly read the outward expression. Still, he was not born 
for contemplation; properly speaking, the gift of conveying his 
ideas to others was not his. He felt himself rather, with all 
his powers, impelled to activity, to action ; and I have never 
known any one who was more unceasingly active than Lavater. 
But because our inward moral nature is incorporated in out- 
ward conditions, whether we belong to a family, a class, a guild, 
a city, or a state, he was obliged, in his desire to influence 
others, to come into contact with all these external things, and 
to set them in motion. Hence arose many a collision, many 
an entanglement, especially as the commonwealth of which he 
was by birth a member enjoyed, under the most precise and 
accurately-defined limits, an admirable hereditary freedom. 
The republican from his boyhood is accustomed himself to think 
and to converse on public afiairs. In the first bloom of his life 
the youth sees the period approaching when, as a member of a 
free corporation, he will have a vote to give or to withhold. If 
he wishes to form a just and independent judgment, he must, 
before all things, convince himself of the worth of his fellow 
citizens; he must learn to know them; he must inquire into 
their sentiments and their capacities ; and thus, in aiming to 
read others, he becomes intimate with his own bosom. 



LAVATEK. U 

Under such circumstances Lavater was early trained, and 
this business of life seems- to hare occupied him more than the 
study of languages and the analytic criticism, which is not only 
allied to that study, but is its foundation as well as its aim. In 
later years, when his attainments and his yiews had reached a 
boundless comprehensiveness, he frequently said, both in jest 
and in seriousne^i<, that he was not a learned man. It is pre- 
cisely to this want of deep and solid learning, that we must 
ascribe the fact that he adhered to the letter of the Bible, and 
even to the translation, and found in it nourishment, and 
assistance enough for all that he sought and designed. 

Very soon, however, this circle of action in a corporation 
or guild, with its slow movement, became too narrow for the 
quick- nature of its occupant. For a youth to be upright is 
net difficult, and a pure conscience revolts at the wrong of 
which it is still innocent. The oppressions of a bailiff [Land- 
vogt) lay plain before the eyes of the citizens, but it was by 
no means easy to bring them to justice. Lavater having as- 
sociated a friend with himself, anonymously threatened the 
guilty bailiff. The matter became notorious, and an investiga- 
tion was rendered necessary. The criminal was punished, but 
the prompters of this act of justice were blamed if not abused. 
In a weU ordered state even the right must not be brought 
about in a wrong way. 

On a tour which Lavater now made through Germany, he 
3ame into contact with educated and right-thinking men ; but 
that served only to confirm his previous thoughts and convic- 
tions, and on his return home he worked from his own re- 
sources with greater freedom than ever. A noble and good 
man, he was conscious within himself of a lofty conception of 
humanity, and whatever in experience contradicts such a con- 
ception, — all the undeniable defects which remove every one 
from perfection, he reconciled by his idea of the Divinity which 
in the midst of ages came down into human nature in order^ 
completely to restore its earlier image. 

So much by way of preface on the tendencies of this emi- 
nent man ; and now before all things, for a bright pictm-e of 
our meeting and personal intercourse. Our correspondence 
had not long been carried on, when he announced to me and 
to others, that in a voyage up the Hhine which he was about 
to imdertake, he would soon visit Frankfort. Immediately 



12 TRUTH AND POETEY; TEOM MY OWN LIFE. 

there arose a great excitement in our world; all were curious 
to see so remarkable a person; many hoped to profit by 
him in the way of moral and religious culture ; the sceptics 
prepared to distinguish themselves by grave objections ; the 
conceited felt sure of entangling and confounding him by 
arguments in which they had strengthened themselves, — in 
short, there was everything, there was all the favor and dis- 
favor, which awaits a distinguished man who intends to meddle 
with this motley world. 

Our first meeting was hearty; we embraced each other 
in the most friendly way, and I found him just like what I 
had seen in many portraits of him. I saw living and active 
before me, an individual quite unique, and distinguished in a 
way that no one had seen before or will see again. Lavater, 
on the contrary, at the first moment, betrayed by some pecu- 
liar exclamations, that I was not what he had expected. 
Hereupon, I assured him, with the realism which had been 
born in me, and which I had cultivated, that as it had pleased 
God and nature to make me in that fashion we must rest 
content with it. The most important of the points on which 
in our letters we had been far from agreeing, became at 
once subjects of conversation, but we had not time to discuss 
them thoroughly, and something occurred to me that I had 
never before experienced. 

The rest of us whenever we wish to speak of afiairs of the 
soul and of the heart, were wont to withdraw from the crowd, 
and even from all society, because in the many modes of 
thinking, and the different degrees of culture among men, it 
is difficult to be on an understanding even with a few. But 
Lavater was of a wholly different turn ; he liked to extend his 
influence as far as possible, and was not at ease except in a 
crowd, for the instruction and entertainment of which he pos- 
sessed an especial talent, based on his great skill in physiog- 
nomy. He had a wonderful facility of discriminating persons 
and minds, by which he quickly understood the mental state 
of all around him. Whenever therefore this judgment of men 
was met by a sincere confession, a true-hearted inquiry, he was 
able, from the abundance of his internal and external experi- 
ence, to satisfy every one with an appropriate answer. The 
deep tenderness of his look, the marked sweetness of his lips, 
and even the honest Swiss dialect which was heard through his 



LA.VATEE. 13 

High German, with many other things that distinguished him, 
immediately placed all whom he addi-essed quite at their ease. 
Even the slight stoop in his carriage, together with his rather 
hollow chest, contributed not a little to balance in the eyes of 
the remainder of the company the weight of his commanding 
presence. Towards presumption and arrogance he knew how 
to demean himself with calmness and address, for while seem- 
ing to yield he would suddenly bring forward, like a diamond- 
shield, some grand view, ofwhich his narrow-minded opponent 
would never have thought, and at the same time he would so 
agreeably moderate the light which flowed from it, that such 
men felt themselves instructed and convinced, — so long at least 
as they w^ere in his presence. Perhaps with many the impres- 
sion continued to operate long afterwards, for even conceited 
men are also kindly ; it is only necessary by gentle influences 
to soften the hard shell which encloses the fruitful kernel. 

What caused him the greatest pain was the presence of 
persons whose outward ugliness must irrevocably stamp them 
decided enemies of his theory as to the significance of forms. 
They commonly employed a considerable amount of common 
sense and other gifts and talents, in vehement hostility and 
paltry doubts, to weaken a doctrine which appeared offensive 
to their self-love ; for it was not easy to find any one so mag- 
nanimous as Socrates, who interpreted his faun-like exterior in 
favour of an acquired morality. To Lavater the hardness, the 
obduracy of such antagonists was horrible, and his opposition 
was not free from passion ; just as the smelting fire must attack 
the resisting ore as something troublesome and hostile. 

In such a case a confidential conversation, such as might 
appeal to our own cases and experience, was not to be thought 
of; however I was much instructed by observing the manner 
in which he treated men, — instructed, I say, not improved by 
it, for my position was wholly different from his. He that 
works morally loses none of his efforts, for there comes from 
them much more fruit than the parable of the Sower too 
modestly represents. But he whose labours are artistic, fails 
utterly in every work that is not recognised as a work of art. 
From this it may be judged how impatient my dear sympa. 
thizing readers v^ere accustomed to make me, and for what 
reasons I had such a great dislike to come to an understanding 
with them. I now felt but too vi\"idly the difference between 



14 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY 0^'^ N lilFE. 

the effectiveness of my labors and those of Lavater. His pre- 
vailed, while he was present, mine, when I was absent. Every 
one who at a distance was dissatisfied with him became his 
fi-iend when they met, and every one who, judging by my work, 
considered me amiable, found himself greatly deceived when 
he came in contract with a man of coldness and reserve. 

Merck, who had just come over from Darmstadt, played the 
part of Mephistopheles, especially ridiculing the importuni- 
tiies of the women. As some of these were closely examining 
the apartments which had been set apart for the prophet, 
and, above all, his bed-chamber, the wag said that "the 
pious souls wished to see where they had laid the Lord." 
Nevertheless he, as well as the others, was forced to let 
himself be exorcised. Lips, who accompanied Lavater, drew 
his profile as completely and successfully as he did those of 
other men, both important and unimportant, who were to be 
heaped together in the great work on Physiognomy. 

For myself, Lavater' s society was highly influential and in- 
structive, for his pressing incitements to action set my calm, 
artistic, contemplative nature into motion, not indeed to any 
advantage at the moment, because the circumstances did but in- 
crease the distraction which had already laid hold of me. Still, 
so many things were talked about between us, as to give rise to 
the most earnest desire on my part to prolong the discussion. 
Accordingly I determined to accompany him if he M^ent to Ems, 
so that, shut up in the carriage and separated from the world, 
we might freely go over those subjects which lay nearest to 
both our hearts. 

Meanwhile the conversations between Lavater and Fraulein 
Von Klettenberg were to m.e exceedingly interesting and 
profitable. Here two decided Christians stood in contrast to 
each other, and it was quite plain how the same belief may take 
a different shape according to the sentiments of different per- 
sons. In those tolerant times it was often enough repeated that 
every man had his own religion and his o\^ti mode of worship. 
Although I did not maintain this exactly, I could, in the pre- 
sent case, perceive that men and women need a different 
Saviour. Fraulein Von Klettenberg looked towards hers as 
to a lover to whom one yields oneself without reserve, con- 
uentrating all joy and hope on him alone, and without doub^ 
or hesitation confiding to him the destiny of life. Lavater, 



FAITH AND KNOWLEDGE. 15 

on tlie other hand, treated his as a friend, to be imitated 
lovingly and without envy, whose merits he recognised and 
valued highly, and whom, for that very reason, he strove to 
copy and even to equal. What a difference between these 
two tendencies, which in general exhibit the spirtual ne- 
cessities of the two sexes ! Hence we may perhaps explain 
the fact that men of more delicate feeling have so often turned 
to the Mother of God as a paragon of female beauty and virtue, 
and like Sannazaro, have dedicated to her their lives and talents, 
occasionally condescending to play with the Divine Infant. 

How my two friends stood to each other, and how they felt 
towards each other, I gathered not only from conversations at 
which I was present, but also from revelations which both 
made to me in private. I could not agree entirely Math either; 
for my Christ had also taken a form of his own, in accordance 
with my views. Because they would not allow mine to pass at 
all, I teased them with all sorts of paradoxes and exaggera- 
tions, and, when they got impatient, left them with a jest. 

The contest between knowledge and faith was not yet the 
order of the day, but the two words and the ideas connected 
with them occasionally came forward, and the true haters of the 
world maintained that one was as little to be relied on as the 
other. Accordingly I took pleasure in declaring in favour of 
both, though without being able to gain the assent of my friends. 
In Faith, I said, everything depends on the fact of believing ; 
what is believed is perfectly indifferent. Faith is a profound 
sense of security for the present and future, and this assurance 
springs fi'om confidence in an immense, all-powerful, and in- 
scrutable Being. The firmness of this confidence is the one 
grand point ; but what we think of this Being depends on our 
other faculties, or even on circumstances, and is wholly 
indifferent. Faith is a holy vessel into which every one 
stands ready to pour his feelings, his understanding, his 
imagination as perfectly as he can. With Knowledge it "is 
directly the opposite. There the point is not whether we 
Imow, but what we know, how much we know, and how well 
we know it. Hence it comes that men may dispute about 
knowledge because it can be corrected, widened, and con- 
tracted. Knowledge begins with the particular, is endless 
and formless, can never be all comjorehended, or at least but 
dreamily, and thus remains exactly the opposite of Faith. 



16 TRUTH AND POETKY : FKOM MY OWN" LIFE. 

Half truths of this kind, and the errors which arise from 
them may, when poetically exhibited, be exciting and enter- 
taining, but in life they disturb and confuse conversation. 
For that reason I was glad to leave Lavater alone with all 
those who wished to be edified by him and through him, a 
deprivation for which I found myself fully compensated by 
the journey we made together to Ems. Beautiful summer 
weather attended us, and Lavater was gay and most amiable. 
For though of a religious and moral turn, he was by no means 
narrow-minded, and was not unmoved when by the events of life 
those around him were excited to cheerfuhiess and gaiety. He 
was sympathizing, spirited, witty, and liked the same qualities 
in others, provided that they were kejDt within the bounds which 
his delicate sense of propriety prescribed. If any one ventured 
further he used to clap him on the shoiilder, and by a hearty 
'■'■Bisch guetF'' would call the rash man back to good manners. 
This journey afforded me instruction and inspiration of many 
kinds, which, however, contributed to a knowledge of his cha- 
racter rather than to the government and culture of my own. At 
Ems I saw him once again, surrounded by society of every sort, 
and I went back to Frankfort, because my little affairs were in 
such a state that I could scarcely absent myself from them at all. 

But I was not destined to be restored so speedily to repose. 
Basedow now came in to attract me, and touch me on 
another side. A more decided contrast could not be found 
than that between these two men. A single glance at 
Basedow showed the difference. Lavater's featm^es displayed 
themselves with openness to the observer, but those of 
Basedow were crowded together and as it were drawn 
inward. Lavater's eye, beneath a very wide eyelid, was clear 
and expressive of piety; Basedow's was deep in his head, 
small, black, sharp, gleaming from under bristly brows, while 
on the contrary, Lavater's frontal bone was edged with 
two arches of the softest brown hair. Basedow's strong, 
rough voice, quick, sharp expressions, a kind of sarcastic 
laugh, a rapid change of subjects in conversation, with 
other peculiarities, were all the opposite of the qualities and 
manners by which Lavater had spoiled us. Basedow was 
also much sought after in Frankfort, and his great talents were 
admired, but he was not the man either to edify souls or to 
lead them. His sole ofiice was to give a better cultivation to 



BASEDOW. 17 

the wide field lie had marked out for himself, so that 
Hmnarity might afterwards take up its dwelling in it with 
greater ease and accordance with natm-e ; but to this end he 
hastened even too directly. 

I could not altogether acquiesce in his plan?;, or even get a 
clear understanding of his views. I was of course pleased 
with his desire of making all instruction living and natural ; 
his wish, too, that the ancient languages should be practised 
on present objects, appeared to me laudable, and I gladly 
acknowledged all that in his project, tended to the promotion 
of activity and a fresher view of the world. But I was dis- 
pleased that the illustrations of his elementary work, were 
even more distracting than its subjects, whereas in the 
actual world, possible things alone stand together, and for 
that reason, in spite of all variety and apparent confusion, the 
world has still a regularity in all its parts. Basedow's elemen- 
tary work, on the contrary, sunders it completely, inasmuch 
as things which in the world never are combined, are here 
put together on accoimt of the association of ideas; and 
consequently, the book is without even those palpable metho- 
dical advantages Avhich we must acknowledge in the similar 
work of Amos Comenius. 

But the conduct of Basedow was much more strange and 
difficult to comprehend than his doctrine. The purpose of 
his journey was, by personal influence, to interest the public 
in his philanthropic enterpri-se, and, indeed, to open not only 
hearts but pm-ses. He had the power of speaking grandly 
and convm-cingly of his scheme, and every one willingly 
conceded what he asserted. But in a most inexplicable way 
he pained the feelings of the very men whose assistance 
he wished to gain; nay, he outraged them unnecessarily, 
through his inability to keep back his opinions and fancies 
on religious subjects. In this respect, too, Basedow appeared 
the very opposite of Lavater. While the latter received 
the Bible hterally, and with its whole contents, as being 
word for word in force, and applicable even at the present 
day, the former had the most unquiet itching to renovate 
everything, and to remodel both the doctrines and the cere- 
monies of the church in conformity with some odd notions 
of his own. Most imprudently he showed no mercy to those 
conceptions which come not immediately from the Bible, but 
Vol. II. c 



18 TRUTH AND POETJEIY; FROM MY OAVN LIFE. 

from its interpretation; — all those expressions, technical 
philosophical terms, or sensible figm^es, with which Councils 
and Fathers of the church had sought to explain the inex- 
pressible, or to confute heretics. In a harsh and unwar- 
rantable way, and before all alike, he declared himself the sworn 
enemy of the Trinity, and would never desist from arguing 
against this universally admitted mystery. I, too, had to 
suffer a good deal from this kind of entertainment in private 
conversation, and was compelled again and again to listen to 
his tirades about the Hypostasis and Ousia, as well as the 
Prosopon. To meet them all I had recourse to the weapons 
of paradox, and soaring even above the flight of his opinions, 
ventured to oppose his rash assertions with something rasher 
of my own. This gave a new excitement to my mind, and 
as Basedow was much more extensively read, and had more 
skill in the fencing tricks of disputation than a follower of 
nature like myself, I had always to exert myself the more, 
the more important were the points which were discussed 
between us. 

Such a splendid opportunity to exercise, if not to enlighten 
my mind, I could not allow to pass away in a hurry. 1 pre- 
vailed on my father and friends to manage my most pressing 
affairs, and now set off again from Frankfort in the company 
of Basedow. But what a difference did I feel when I recalled 
the gentle spirit which breathed from Lavater ! Pure him- 
self, he created around him a pure circle. At his side one 
became like a maiden, for fear of presenting before him any- 
thing repulsive. Basedow, on the contrary, being altogether 
absorbed in himself, could not pay any attention to his 
external appearance. His ceaseless smoking of wretched 
tobacco was of itself extremely disagreeable, especially as 
his pipe was no sooner out, than he brought forth a dirtily 
prepared kind of tinder, which took fire quickly, but had a 
most horrid stench, and every time poisoned the air insuffer- 
ably with the first whiff. I called this preparation " The 
Basedovian Smellfungus," (Stink-schwamm) and declared that 
it ought to be introduced into Natural History under this 
name. This greatly amused him, and to my disgust he 
minutely explained the hated prepai^ation, taking a malicious 
pleasure in my aversion from it. It was one of the deeplv 
rooted, disagreeable peculiarities of this admirably gifted maa 



BASEDOW 19 

that he was fond of teasing, and would sting the most dis- 
passionate persons. He could never see any one quiet, but 
he provoked him with mocking irony, in a hoarse voice, or 
put him to confusion by an unexpected question, and laughed 
bitterly when he had gained his end; yet he was pleased when 
the object of his jests was quick enough to collect himself. 
and gave him a retort. 

How much greater was now my longing for Lavater. He, 
too, seemed to be rejoiced when he saw me again, and confided 
to me much that he had learned, especially in reference to the 
various characters of his fellovf-guests, among whom he had 
already succeeded in making many friends and disciples. For 
my part I found here several old acquaintances, and ip those 
whom I had not seen for many years, I began to notice 
what in youth long remains concealed from us, namely, that 
men grow old and women change. The company became 
more numerous every day. There was no end to the dancing, 
and, as in the two principal bath-houses, people came into 
pretty close contact, the familiarity led to many a practical 
joke. Once I disguised myself as a village clergyman, while 
an intimate Mend took the character of his wife ; by our 
excessive and troublesome politeness, we were tolerably 
amusing to the elegant society, and so put every one into 
good humor. Of serenades at evening, midnight and morning, 
there was no lack, and we juniors enjoyed but little sleep. 

To make up for these dissipations, I always passed a part 
of the night with Basedow. He never went to bed, but 
dictated without cessation. Occasionally he cast himself on 
the couch and slumbered, while his amanuensis sat quietly, 
pen in hand, ready to continue his work when the half 
awakened author should once again give free course to his 
thoughts. All this took place in a close confined chamber, 
filled with the fumes of tobacco and the odious tinder. As 
often as I was disengaged from a dance, I hastened up to 
Basedow, who was ready at once to speak and dispute on any 
question; and when after a time, I hurried again to the 
ball-room, before I had closed the door behind me, he would 
resume the thread of his essay as composedly as if he hat 
been engaged with nothing else. 

We also made together many excui-sions into the neigh- 
borhood, visiting the 'chateaux, especially those of noble ladies. 

G 2 



20 TKUTII AND POETKY; FKOM my own lilFE. 

wlio were everywhere more inclined tlian tlie men, to receive 
anything that made a pretence to intellect and talent. At 
Nassau, at the house of Frau von Stein, a most estimable 
lady, who enjoyed universal respect, we found a large com- 
pany. Frau von Laroche was likewise present, and there 
was no lack of yoimg ladies and children. Here Lavater was 
doomed to be put to many a physiognomical temptation, 
which consisted mainly in our seeking to palm upon him the 
accidents of cultivation as original forms, but his eye was too 
sure to be deceived. I, too, was called on as much as ever 
to maintain the truth of the Sorrows of Werther, and to name 
the residence of Charlotte, a desire which I declined to gra- 
tify, not in the politest manner. On the other hand I col- 
lected the children around me in order. to tell them very 
wonderful stories, all about well known things, in which I 
had the great advantage, that no member of my circle of 
hearers could ask me with any importunity what part was 
truth and what fiction. 

Basedow affirmed that the only thing necessary was a better 
education of youth, and to promote this end he called upon, 
the higher and wealthy classes for considerable contributions. 
But hardly had his reasoning and his impassioned eloquence 
excited, not to say, won to his purpose, the sympathy of his 
auditors, when the evil anti-trinitarian spirit came upon him, 
so that without the least sense of where he was, he broke forth 
into the strangest discourses, which in his own opinion were 
highly religious, but according to the convictions of those 
around him highly blasphemous. All sought a remedy for 
this evil; Lavater, by gentle seriousness, I, by jests, leading 
off from the subject, and the ladies by amusing walks, but 
harmony could not be restored. A Christian conversation, 
such as had been expected from the presence of Lavater, a 
discourse on education, such as had been anticipated from 
Basedow, and a sentimental one, for which it was thought 
I should be ready — all were at once distm-bed and destroyed. 
On our return home, Lavater reproached him, but I punished 
him in a humorous way. The weather was warm, and 
the tobacco-smoke had perhaps contributed to the dry- 
ness of Basedow's palate; he was dying for a glass of beer, 
and seeing a ' tavern at a distance on the road, he eagerly 
ordered the coachman to stop there. But just as he was 



BASEDOW AND LAVATEK. 21 

diiving up to the door, I called out to liim loudly and impe- 
riously, "Go on!" Basedow, taken by sm-prise, could hardly 
get the contrary command out of his husky voice. I lu-ged 
the coachman more vehemently, and he obeyed me. Basedow 
cui'sed me, and was ready to fall on me with his fists, but T 
replied to him with the greatest composure, " Father, be 
quiet! You ought to thank me. Luckily you didn't see 
the beer-sign ! It was two triangles put together across each 
other. Now you commonly get mad about one triangle, and 
if you had set eyes on two, we should have' had to get 
you a strait* jacket." This joke threw him into a fit of im- 
moderate laughter, in the intervals of which he scolded and 
cm'sed me, while Lavater exercised his patience on both the 
young fool and the old one. 

"When in the middle of July, Lavater was preparing to 
depart, Basedow thought it advantageous to join him, while I 
had become so accustomed to this rai-e society that I could not 
bring myself to give it up. We had a delightful journey 
down the Lahn; it was refi'eshing alike to heart and senses. 
At the sight of an old ruined castle, I wrote the song " JTocA 
auf clem alien Thurme stehV (High on the ancient Turret 
stands), in Lips' s Album, and as it was well received, I 
Avi'ote, after my evil habit, all kinds of doggrel rhymes 
and comicalities on the succeeding pages, in order to 
destroy the impression. I rejoiced to see the magnificent 
Rhine once more, and was delighted mth the astonish- 
ment of those who had never before enjoyed this splendid 
spectacle. "We landed at Coblentz ; wherever we w^ent, the 
crowd was very great, and each of the three excited interest 
and curiosity. Basedow and I seemed to strive which could 
behave most outrageously. Lavater conducted himself rati- 
onally and with judgment, only he could not conceal his 
favorite opinions, and thus with the best designs he appeared 
very odd to all men of mediocrity. 

I have preserved the memory of a strange dinner at a hotel 
in Coblentz, in some doggrel rhymes, which will, perhaps, 
stand with all theu' kindred in my New Edition. I sat 
between Lavater and Basedow; the first was instructing a 
countiy parson on the mysteries of the Revelation of St. John, 
and the other was in vain endeavourjag to prove to an 
obstinate dancing master, that baptism was an obsolete usage 



22 TllUTPI AND poetry; from my OWN" ilFE. 

not calculated for our times. As we were going on to 
Cologne, I 'vrote in an Album — 

As though to Emmaus, on theii* ride 

Storming they might be seen; 
The prophets sat on either side. 

The world-child sat between. 

Luckily this world -child had also a side which was turned 
towards the heavenly, and which was now to be moved in a 
way wholly peculiar. While in Ems I had rejoiced to hear 
that in Cologne we should find the brothers Jacobi, who with 
other eminent men had set out to meet and show attention to 
our two remarkable travellers. On my part, I hoped for for- 
giveness from them for sundry little improprieties which had 
originated in the great love of mischief that Herder's keen 
humor had excited in us. The letters and poems in which 
Gleim and George Jacobi publicly rejoiced in each other, had 
given us opportunity for all sorts of sport, and we had not 
reflected that there is just as much self-conceit in giving pain 
to others when they are comfortable, as in showing an excess 
of kindness to oneself or to one's friends. By this means, a 
certain dissension had arisen between the Upper and Lower 
Khine, of so slight importance, however, that mediation was 
easy. For this the ladies were particularly adapted. Sophia 
Laroche had already given us the best idea of the noble 
brothers. Mademoiselle Fahlmer, who had come to Frankfort 
from Diisseldorf, and who was intimate with their circle, by 
the great tenderness of her sympathies, and the uncommon 
cultivation of her mind, furnished an evidence of the worth of 
the society in which she had grown up. She gradually put 
us to shame by her patience with our harsh Upper Saxon 
manner, and taught us forbearance by letting us feel that we 
ourselves stood in need of it. The true-heartedness of the 
younger sister of the Jacobis, the gaiety of the wife of Fritz 
Jacobi, turned our minds and eyes more and more to these 
regions. The latter was qualified to captivate me entirely ; 
possessed of a correct feeling without a trace of sentimen- 
tality, and with a lively way of speaking, she was a fine 
Netherlands' woman, who without any expression of sensu- 
ality, by her robust nature called to mind the women of 
Kubens. Both these ladies, in longer and shorter visits at 



THE BEOTIIERS JACOBI. 23 

Frankfort, had formed the closest alliance with my sister, and 
had expanded and enlivened the severe, stiff, and somewhat 
loveless nature of Cornelia. Thus Diisseldorf and Pempelfort 
had interested our minds and hearts, even in Frankfort. 

Accordingly our first meeting in Cologne was at once frank 
and confidential, for the good opinion of the ladies had not 
been without its influence at home. I was not now treated, 
as hitherto on the journey, as the mere misty tail of the two 
great comets; all around paid me particular attention, and 
showed me abimdant kindness, which they also seemed in- 
clined to receive from me in return. I was weary of my 
pre^sdous follies and impertinences, behind which, in truth, I 
only hid my impatience, to find dming the journey so little 
care taken to satisfy my heart and soul. Hence, what was 
within me, burst out like a torrent, and this is perhaps the 
reason why I recollect so little of individual events. The 
thoughts we have had, the pictures w^e have seen, can be 
again called up before the mind and the imagination ; but the 
heart is not so complaisant ; it will not repeat its agreeable 
emotions. And least of all are we able to recall moments 
of enthusiasm ; they come upon us unprepared, and we yield 
to them unconsciously. For this reason, others, who observe 
us at such moments have a better and clearer insight into what 
passes within us, than we ourselves. 

Religious conversations I had hitherto gently declined ; to 
plain questions, I had not unfrequently replied with harshness, 
because they seemed to me too narrow in comparison with 
what I sought. When any one wished to force upon me his 
sentiments and opinions of my compositions, but especially 
when I was afflicted with the demands of common sense, and 
people told me decidedly what I ought to have done or left 
undone, I got out of all patience, and the conversation broke 
off, or crumbled to pieces, so that no one went away with a 
particularly good opinion of me. It would have been much 
more natural to make myself gentle and friendly, but my 
feelings would not be schooled. They needed to be expanded 
by free good will and to be moved to a surrender by sincere 
sympathy. One feeling which prevailed greatly with me, 
and could never find an expression odd enough for itself, 
was a sense of the past and present together in one; a 
phenomenon which brought something spectral into the pre- 



24 TRUTH AND POETRY; FKOM MY OWN LIFE. 

sent. It is expressed in many of my smaller and largei 
works, and always has a beneficial influence in a poem, 
though, whenever it began to mix itself up with actual life, it 
must have appeared to every one strange, inexplicable, per- 
haps gloomy, 

Cologne was the place where antiquity had such an incal- 
culable effect upon me. The ruins of the Cathedral (for an 
unfinished work is like one destroyed) called up the emotions 
to which I had been accustomed at Strasburg. Artistic 
considerations were out of the question,; too much and too 
little was given me ; and there was no one who could help me 
out of the labyrinth of what was performed and what was 
proposed, of the fact and the plan, of what was built and 
what was only designed, as our industrious, persevering 
friends nowadays are ready to do. In company with others 
I did indeed admire its wonderful chapels and columns, but 
when alone I always gloomily lost myself in this world-edifice, 
thus checked in its creation while far from complete. Here, 
too, was a great idea never realized ! It would seem, indeed, 
as if the architecture were there only to convince us that by 
many men, in a series of years, nothing can be accomplished, 
and that in art and in deeds only that is achieved which, like 
Minerva, springs fuli-grov/n and armed from the head of its 
inventor. 

At these moments which, oppressed more than they cheered 
my heart, I little thought that the tenderest and fairest 
emotion was in store for me near at hand. I was persuaded 
to visit Jabach's Dwelling, and hfere all that I had been wont to 
form for myself in my mind came actually and sensibly 
before my eyes. This family had probably long ago become 
extinct, but on the ground floor which opened upon a garden, 
we found everything unchanged. A pavement of brownish 
red tiles, of a rhomboidal form regularly laid, carved chairs 
with embroidered seats and high backs, flap-tables, metal 
chandeliers curiously inlaid, on heavy feet, an immense fire- 
place with its appropriate utensils, everything in harmony 
with those early times, and in the whole room nothing new, 
nothing belonging to the present but ourselves. But what 
more than all heightened and completed the emotions thus 
strangely excited^ was a large family picture over the fire- 
place. There sat the former wealthy inhabitant of this abode 



miTZ JACOBI. 25 

surrounded by his ^ife and children, — tliere were they in all 
the freshness of life, and as if of yesterday, or rather of 
to-day, and yet all of them had passed away. These young, 
round-cheeked childi-en had grown old, and iDut for this clever 
likeness, not a trace of them would have remained. How I 
acted, how I demeaned myself, when overcome by these im- 
pressions I cannot say. The lowest depths of my human 
affections and poetic sensibilities were laid bare in the bound- 
less stirring of my heart ; all that was good and loving in my 
soul seemed to open and break forth. In that moment with- 
out fm'ther probation or debate, I gained for life the affeotijon 
and confidence of those eminent men. 

As a result of this union of soul and intellect, in which all 
that was living in each came forth upon his lips, I offered to 
recite my newest and most favorite ballads. "jDer Konig von 
Thule,"" (The king of Thule,) and "jB's war ein Buhe frech 
genug^' (There was a rascal bold enough*,) had a good 
effect, and I bi^ought them forth with more feeling as my 
poems were still bound to my heart, and as they seldom 
passed my lips. For in the presence of persons, who I feared 
could not sympathize with my tender sensibility, I felt re- 
strained; and frequently, in the midst of a recitation, I have 
become confused and could not get right again. How often 
for that reason have I been accused of wilfulness, and of a 
strange, whimsical disposition! 

Although poetic composition, just then, mainly occupied 
me and exactly suited my temperament, I was still no stranger 
to reflection on all kinds of subjects, and Jacobi's tendency to 
the unfathomable, which was so original, and so much in 
accordance with his nature, was most welcome and agree- 
able to me. Here no controversy arose, neither a Christian 
one, as with Lavater, nor a didactic one, as with Basedow. 
The thoughts which Jacobi imparted to me flowed immedi- 
ately from his heart. How profoundly was I moved when in 
unlimited confidence, he revealed to me even the most hidden 
longings of his soul! From so amazing a combination of 
mental wants, passion, and ideas, I could only gather pre- 
sentiments of what might, perhaps, afterwards grow more clear 

* The title of the poem is " Der untreue Knabe," (The Faithless Bey), 
and in the first line of it, as published in Gothe's collected workS| 
"Knabe" will be fourd instead of <'Bube"— Trans. 



26 TRUTH AND POETHY; PEOM MY OWN LIFE. 

to me. Happily, I had already prepared if not fully culti- 
vated myself on this side, having in some degree appropriated 
the thoughts and mind of an extraordinary man, and though 
my study of him had been incomplete and hasty, I was 
yet alreadly conscious of important influences derived from 
this source. This mind, which had worked upon me thus de- 
cisively, and which was destined to affect so deeply my whole 
mode of thinking, was Spiistoza. After looking through the 
world in vain, to find a means of develojDment for my strange 
nature, I at last fell upon the Etliics of this philosopher. Of 
what I read out of the work, and of what I read into it, I can 
give no account. Enough that I found in it a sedative for 
my passions, and that a free, wide view over the sensible and 
moral world, seemed to open before me. But what especially 
riveted me to him, was the utter disinterestedness which 
shone forth in his every sentence. That wonderful senti- 
ment, " He who truly loves God must not desire God to love 
him in return," together with all the preliminary propositions 
on which it rests, and all the consequences that follow from 
it, filled my whole mind. To be disinterested in everything, 
but the most of all in love and friendship, was my highest 
desire, my maxim, my practice, so that that subsequent hasty 
saying of mina, " If I love thee what is that to thee?" was 
spoken right out of my heart. Moreover, it must not be 
forgotten here that the closest unions are those of opposites. 
The all-composing calmness of Spinoza was in striking con- 
trast with my all-disturbing activity ; his mathematical method 
was the direct opposite of my poetic humour and my way of 
writing, and that very precision which was thought ill-adapted 
to moral subjects, made me his enthusiastic disciple, his most 
decided worshipper. Mind and heart, understanding and 
sense, sought each other with an eager affinity, binding toge- 
ther the most different natures. 

At this time, however, all within was fermenting and 
seething in the first action and reaction. Fritz Jacobi, the 
first whom I suffered to look into the chaos, and whose nature 
was also toiling in its own extreme depths, heartily received 
my confidence, responded to it, and endeavored to lead me to 
his own opinions. He, too, felt an unspeakable mental want ; 
he, too, did not wish to have it appeased by outward aid, but 
aimed at development and illumination from within. I could 



PAINTINGS BY WEENIX. 27 

not comprehend wliat lie communicated to me of tlie state 
of his mind, so much the less indeed, because I could form no 
idea as to my own. Still, as he was far in advance of me in 
pliilosophical thought, and even in the study of Spinoza, he 
endeavored to guide and enlighten my obscure efforts. Such 
a purely intellectual relationship was new to me, and excited 
a passionate longing for farther communion. At night, after 
we had parted and retired to our chambers, I often sought 
him again. With the moonlight trembling over the broad 
Rhine, we stood at the window, and reyelled in that full 
interchange of ideas which in such splendid moments of 
confidence swells forth so abundantly. 

StiU, of the unspeakable joy of those moments I can now 
give no account. Much more distinct to my mind is an ex- 
cursion to the hunting-seat of Bensberg, which, lying on the 
right shore of the Rhine, commanded the most splendid pro- 
spect. What delighted me beyond measure was the decora- 
tions of the walls by Weenix. They represented a large open 
hall surrounded by columns, at the foot of these, as if forming 
the pHnth, lay all the animals that the chase can furnish skilfuUy 
arranged, and over these again the eye ranged over a wade 
landscape. The wonderful artist had expended his whole skill 
in giving life to these lifeless creatures. In the delineation of 
their widely varying coats, the bristles, hair, or feathers, with 
the antlers and claAvs, he had equalled natm-e, while, in the; 
effect produced, he had excelled her. When w^e had admired 
these works of art sufficiently, as a whole, we were led to 
reflect on the handling by which such pictures, combining so 
much spirit and mechanical skill, were produced. We could 
not understand how they could be created by the hands of 
man, or by any of his instruments. The pencil was not suffi- 
cient; peculiar preparations must be supposed to make such 
variety possible. Whether we came close to them, or with- 
drew to a distance, our astonishment was equal; the cause 
was as wonderful as the effect. 

Our further journey up the Rhine was happy and for- 
tunate. The widening of the river invites the mind to 
expand itself likewise, and to look into the distance. We 
arrived at Diisseldorf, and from thence came to Pempelfort, a 
most delightful and beautiful resting-place, where a spacious 
mansion, opening upon extensive and well-kept gard(ins, col- 



28 THU'.CH AND poetry; mOM MY OWN LIFE„ 

lected together a tliougliM and refined circle. The members 
of the family were numerous, and strangers, who found 
abundant enjoyment in so rich and agreeable a neighbour- 
hood were never wanting. 

In the Ddsseldorf gallery my predilection for the Flemish 
school found plentiful nouiishment. There were whole halls 
filled with these yigorous, sturdy pictures, brilliant with a 
fulness of nature ; and, if my judgm^ent was not enlarged, my 
store of knowledge was enriched and my love for art con- 
firmed. 

The beautiful composure, contentment, and firmness, which 
marked the leading character of this family circle, quickly 
manifested themselves to the observant eye of the thoughtful 
guest, who could not fail to perceive that a wide sphere of 
influences had here its centre. The activity and opulence 
of the neighboring cities and villages contributed not a little 
to enhance this feeling of inward satisfaction. We visited 
Elberfeld, and were delighted with the busy aspect of so 
many flourishing manufactories-. Here we fell in again with 
oxo: friend Jung, commonly known as Stilling, who had gone 
even to Coblentz to meet us ; and who always had his faith 
in God and his truth towards men, as his most precious at- 
tendants. Here we saw him in his own circle, and took 
pleasure in the confidence reposed in him by his fellow citi- 
zens, who, though occupied with eai'thly gain, did not leave 
the heavenly treasures out of view. The sight of this indus- 
trious region was satisfactory, because its prosperity was the 
result of order and neatness. In the contemplation of these 
things we passed happy days. 

When I returned to my friend Jacobi, I enjoyed the rap- 
tm'ous feeling springing from a union of the innermost soul. 
We were both inspired by the liveliest hope of an influence 
in common, and I urgently pressed him to make an exhi- 
bition in some striking form or other of all that was acting 
and moving within him. This was the means by which I had 
escaped from many perplexities, and I hoped that it would 
relieve him also. He did not object, but undertook the task 
with zeal, and how much that is good, and beautiful, and 
consolatory, has he accomplished! And so, at last, we 
parted with the happy feeling of eternal union, and wholly 
without a presentiment that our labors would assume the 



INTENDED DE.AMA O'F MAHOMET. 29- 

opposite directions, which, in the course of life, they so 
markedly took. 

Whatever else occurred to me on the return down the Rhine 
has altogether vanished from my memory, partly because the 
second impressions of natm'al objects are wont, in my mind, 
to be mingled with the first; and partly because, with my 
thoughts turned inwardly, I was endeavouring to arrange the 
varied experience I on myself had gained, and to work up 
what had affected me. Of one important result, as it im- 
pelled me to creative efibrts, which kept me occupied for a 
long time, I will now speak. 

With my lawless disposition, with a life and action so aim- 
less and purposeless, the observation could not long escape 
me that Lavater and Basedow employed intellectual and even 
spiritual means for earthly ends. It soon struck me, who 
spent my talents and my days on no object whatever, that 
these two men, while endeavoring, to preach their doctrines, 
to teach and to convince, had each in his own way, certain 
views in the background — ^the advancement of which was, to 
them, of great consequence, Lavater went to v,^ork gently 
and prudently, Basedow vehemently, rudely, and even awk- 
wardly; but both were so convinced of the excellence of their 
favorite schemes and imdertakings, and their mode of prose- 
cuting them, that so far all were compelled to look upon them 
as men of sincerity, and to love and to honor them as such. 
In praise of Lavater especially, it could be said that he 
actually had higher objects, and, if he acted according to the 
wisdom of this world, it was in the belief that the end would 
hallow the means. As I observed them both, nay, indeed 
frankly told them my opinions and heard theirs in return, the 
thought arose in me that every highly- gifted man is called 
upon to diffuse whatever there is of divine within him. In 
attempting this, however, he comes in contact with the rough 
world, and, in order to act upon it, he must put himself on 
the same level. Thus, in a great measm-e he compromises 
nis high advantages, and finally forfeits them altogether. 
The heavenly, the eternal, is buried in a body of earthly 
designs, and hurried with it to the fate of the transient. 
From this point of view I now regarded the career of these 
two men, and they seemed to me, worthy both of honor and 
of compassion ; for I thought I could foresee that each would 



30 TBI7TH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE 

be compelled to sacrifice the higher to the lower. As I 
pursued this reflection to the farthest extremity, and looked 
beyond the limits of my narrow experience for similar cases 
in history, the plan occurred to me of taking the life of 
Mahomet, whom I had never been able to think an impostor, 
for a dramatic exhibition of those courses which in actual 
life, I was strongly convinced, invariably lead to ruin much 
more than to good. I had shortly before read with great 
interest, and studied the life of the Eastern Prophet, and was 
therefore tolerably prepared when the thought occurred to 
me. The sketch approached on the whole to the regular form 
to which I was again inclining, although I still used in mode- 
ration the liberty gained for the stage, and arranged time and 
place according to my own pleasure. The piece began with 
Mahomet alone under the open sky, singing a hymn. In it 
he adores first of all the innumerable stars as so many gods ; 
but as the friendly star, Gad (our Jupiter) rises, he oflers to 
him, as the king of the stars, exclusive adoration. Not long 
after the moon ascends the horizon, and wins the eye and 
heart of the worshipper, who, presently refreshed and 
strengthened by the dawning sun, is called upon for new 
praises. But these changing phenomena, however delightful, 
are still unsatisfactory and the mind feels that it must rise 
yet above itself. It mounts, therefore, to God, the Only, 
Eternal, Infinite, to whom aU these splendid yet limited 
creatures owe their existence. I composed this hymn with 
great delight ; it is now lost, but might easily be restored tor 
the purpose of a cantata, and would commend itself to the 
musical composer by the variety of its expression. It would, 
hi)wever, be necessary to imagine it sung, according to the 
original plan, by the conductor of a caravan with his family 
and tribe; and thus the alternation of the voices, and the 
sti^ength of the chorus, would be provided for. 

After Mahomet has thus converted himself, he imparts 
these feelings and sentiments to his friends. His wife and 
Ali become his disciples without reserve. In the second act, 
:ie zealously attempts, supported by the still more ardent Ali, 
to propagate this faith in the tribe. Assent and opposition 
fallow the variety of character. The contest begins, the 
strife becomes violent, and Mahomet is compelled to flee. 
In the third act, he defeats his enemies, and making his 



INTENDED DRAMA OF MAHOMET. 31 

religion the public one, purifies the Kaaba from idols ; but, as 
all this cannot be done by power, he is obliged to resort to 
cunning. What in his character is earthly increases an<^ 
extends itself; the divine retires and is obscured. In the 
fourth act, Mahomet pursues his conquests, his doctrine be- 
comes a pretence rather than an end; all conceivable means 
must be employed, and barbarities become abundant. A 
woman, whose husband has been put to death by Mahomet's 
order, poisons him. In the fifth act, he feels that he is 
poisoned. His great calmness, the return to himself, and tc 
a higher sense, make him worthy of admiration. He purifi^ 
his doctrine, establishes his kingdom, and dies. 

Such was the sketch of a work which long occupied my 
mind, for usually I was obliged to have the materials in my 
head, before I commenced the execution. I meant, to repre- 
sent the power which genius exercises over men by character 
and intellect, and what are its gains and losses in the pro- 
cess. Several of the songs, to be introduced in the drama, 
were composed beforehand; all that remains of them, how- 
ever, is what stands among my poems under the title '^Maho- 
met's Gesan^," (Mahomet's Song). According to the plan, 
this was to be sung by Ali in honor of his master, at the 
highest point of his success, just before the changed aspect of 
afiairs resulting from the poison. I recollect also the out- 
lines of several scenes, but the explanation of them here 
would lead me too far. 



FIFTEENTH BOOK. 



Fkom these manifold dissipations, which, however, generally 
gave occasion for serious, and even religious reflections, I 
always returned to my noble friend, Fraulein von Ivlettenberg, 
whose presence calmed, at least for a moment, my stormy 
and undirected impulses and passions, and to whom next to 
my sister, I liked best to communicate designs like that I 
have just spoken of. I might, indeed, have perceived that 
her health was constantly failing, but I concealed it from 
myself, and this I was the better able to do as her cheerful- 
ness increased with her illness. She used to sit, neatly 
dressed, in her chair at the window, and kindly listened to the 
narratives of my little expeditions as well as to what I read 
aloud to her. Often, too, I made sketches, in order to make 
her understand the better the description of the places I had 
seen. One evening, I had been recalling to my mind many 
different images ; when in the light of the setting sun she 
and all around her appeared before me, as if transfigured, and 
I could not refrain from making a drawing of her and of the 
surrounding objects in the chamber, as well as my poor skill 
permitted. In the hands of a skilful artist like Kersting it 
would have made a beautiful picture. I sent it to a fair 
friend at a distance, and added a song as commentary and 
supplement : 

In this magic glass reflected 

See a vision, mild and bless'd; 
By the wing of God protected, 

See our friend, while suffering, rest. 

Mark, how her endeavours bore her 
From life's waves to realms above; 

See thine image stand before her, 
And the God, who died from love. 

Feel what I, amid the floating 
Of that heavenly ether, knew ; 

When the first impression noting, 
Hastily this sketch I drew. 



THE MORAVIAKS. 3:-} 

Thoiigli in these stanzas, as had often happened before, I 
expressed myself as "a stranger and foreigner," in short, as 
a heathen, she did not take offence at it. On the contrary, 
she assui-ed me that in so doing I pleased her much more than 
when I attempted to employ the Christian terminology, which 
somehow I could never apply correctly. Indeed, it had be- 
come a standing custom with me, whenever I read to her 
missionary intelligence, which she was always fond of listen- 
ing to, to take the part of the Pagans against the missionaries, 
and to praise their old condition as preferable to their new 
one. Still she was ever gentle and friendly, and seemed not 
to have the least fear about me or my salvation. 

My gradual alienation from her creed arose from the fact 
that I had laid hold of it at first with too great zeal, with 
passionate love. Ever since I became more intimately ac- 
quainted with the Moravians, my irclination to this Society, 
which had united under the victorious banners '^f Christ, had 
constantly increased. It is exactly in the moment of its ear- 
liest formation that a positive religion possesses its greatest 
attraction. On that account it is delightful to go back to the 
time of the Apostles, where all stands forth as fresh and im- 
mediately spiritual. And thus it was that the Moravian doc- 
trine acquired something of a magical charm by appearing to 
continue or rather to perpetuate the condition of those first 
times. It connected its origin with them; when it seemed 
to perish, it still wound its way through the world, although 
by unnoticed tendrils; at last one little germ- took root 
beneath the protection of a pious and eminent man, and 
so from an unnoticed and apparently accidental beginning- 
expanded once more over the wide world. In this Society, the 
most important point, was the inseparable combination of the 
religious and civil constitution by which the teacher was at 
the same time the ruler, and the father the judge. What was 
otill more distinctive of their fraternity was that the religious 
head, to whom unlimited faith was yielded in spiritual things, 
was also intrusted with the guidance of temporal affairs, and 
his counsels, whether for the government of the whole body, 
or for the guidance of individuals, if confirmed by the issue of 
the lot^ were implicitly followed. Its peace and harmony, 
to which at least outward appearances testified, vfas most 
aUuring, while, on the other hand, the missionary vocation 
Vol. II. 1, 



84 TRUTH AND POETBY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

seemed to call forth and to give employment to all manV 
active powers. The excellent persons whose acquaintance 1 
made at Marienborn, which I had visited in the company of 
Councillor Moritz, the agent of Count von Isenburg, had 
gained my unqualified esteem, and it only depended on them- 
selves to make me their own. I studied their history, and 
their doctrine, and the origin and growth of their society, so 
as to be able to give an account of it and to talk about it 
to all who might feel interested in it. Nevertheless, the con- 
viction was soon forced upon me that with the brethren I did 
not pass for a Christian any more than I did with Fraulein 
von Klettenberg. At first this disturbed me, but afterwards 
my inclination to them became somewhat cooler. However, 
I could not for a long time discover the precise ground of 
difference, although it was obvious enough, until at last, it 
was forced upon me more by accident than by reflection. 
What separated me from this brotherhood, as well as from 
other good Christian souls, was the very point on which the 
Church has more than once fallen into dissension. On the 
one hand, it was maintained that by the Fall human nature 
had been so corrupted to its innermost core, that not the 
least good could be found in it, and that therefore man must 
renounce all trust in his ovni powers, and look to grace and 
its operations for everything. The other party, while it ad- 
mitted the hereditary imperfections of man, nevertheless 
ascribed to nature a certain germ of good within, which, ani- 
mated by divine grace, was capable of growing up to a joyous 
tree of spiritual happiness. By this latter conviction I was 
unconsciously penetrated to my inmost soul, even while 
with tongue and pen I maintained the opposite side. But I 
had hitherto gone on with such iU-defined ideas, that I had 
never once clearly stated the dilemma to myself. From this 
dream I was unexpectedly roused one day, when, in a reli- 
gious conversation, having distinctly advanced opinions, to 
my mind, most innocent, I had in return to undergo a severe 
lectm-e. The very thought of such a thing, it was maintained, 
was genuine Pelagianism, a pernicious doctrine which was 
again appearing, to the great injury of modern times. I was 
astonished and even terrified. I went back to Church his- 
tory, studied the doctrine and fate of Pelagius more closely, 
and now saw clearly how these two iiTCconcilable opinions had 



THE WANDERING JEAr. 35 

fluctuated in favour tlirougli wlicle centuries, and had been 
embraced and acknowledged by different men, according as 
they were of a more active or of a more passive nature. 

The course of past years had constaFxtly led me more 
and more to the exercise of my own powers. A restless ac- 
ti\T.ty was at work within me, with the best desire for moral 
development. Tne world Mdthout demanded that this activity 
should be regulated and employed for the advantage of others, 
and this great demand I felt called upon *n my own case to 
meet. On all sides I had been directed to nature, and she had 
appeared to me in her whole magnificence ; I had been ac- 
quainted with many good and true men who were toiling to 
do their duty, and for the sake of duty; to renounce them, 
nay to renounce myself, seemed impossible. The gulf which 
separated me from the doctrine of man's total depravity now 
became plain to me. Nothing, therefore, remained to me but 
to part from this society; and as my love of the holy Scrip- 
tures, as well as of the founder of Christianity and its early 
professors, could not be taken from me, I formed a Chris- 
tianity for my private use, and sought to establish and build 
it up by an attentive study of history and a careful obser- 
vation of those who were favom^able to my opinion. 

As everji^hing which I once warmly embraced immediately 
put on a poetic form, I now took up the strange idea of 
treating epically the history of the Wandering Jew, which 
popular books had long since impressed upon my mind. My 
design was to bring out in the course of the narrative such 
prominent points of the history of religion and the Church as 
I should find convenient. I will now explain the way in 
which I treated this fable, and what meaning I gave to it. 

In Jerusalem, according to the legend, there was a shoe- 
maker, of the name of Ahasuerus. For this character my 
Dresden shoemaker was to supply the main featui-es. I had 
fiu-nished him with the spirit and humor of a craftsman of 
the school of Hans Sachs, and ennobled him by an inclination 
to Christ. Accordingly as, in his open workshop, he liked to 
talk with the passers-by, jested with them, and, after the 
Socratic fashion, touched up every one in his own way, the 
neighbors and others of the people took pleasure in lingering 
at his booth ; even Pharisees and Sadducees spoke to him, 
and the Saviour himself and his disciples would often stop at 

i> 2 



36 TRUTH AND POETEY ; mOM MY OWN LIFE.. 

his door. The shoemaker, whose thoughts were directed solely 
towards the world, I painted as feeling, nevertheless, a special 
affection for our Lord, which, for the most pai-t, evinced itself 
by a desire to bring this lofty being, whose mind he did not 
comprehend, over to his own way of thinking and acting. 
Accordingly, in a modest manner, he recommends Christ to 
abandon his contemplative life, and to leave off going about 
the country with such idlers, and drawing the people away 
from their labor into the wilderness. A multitude, he said, 
was always ready for excitement, and nothing good could 
come of it. 

On the other hand, the Lord endeavoured, by parables, to 
instruct him in his higher views and aims, but these were all 
thrown away on his mere matter-of-fact intellect. Thus, as 
Christ becomes more and more an important character, and 
finally a public person, the ftiendly workman pronounces 
his opinion still more sharply and vehemently, maintaining 
that nothing but disorder and tumult could follow from such 
proceedings, and that Christ would be at last compelled to 
put himself at the head of a party, though that could not 
possibly be his design. FinaUy, when things had taken the 
course which history narrates, and Christ had been seized and 
condemned, Ahasaerus gives full vent to his indignation when 
Judas who undesignedly had betrayed his Lord, in his despair 
enters the workshop, and with lamentations relates how his 
plans had been crossed. He had been, he said, as well as the 
shrewdest of the other disciples, firmly convinced that Christ 
would declare himself regent and head of the nation. His 
pm-pose was only, by this violence, to compel the Lord, whose 
hesitation had hitherto been invincible, to hasten the declara- 
tion. Accordingly, he had incited the priesthood to an act 
which previously they had not courage to do. The disciples, 
on their side, were not without arms, and probably all 
would have turned out well, if the Lord had not given himself 
up, and left them in the most forlorn state. Ahasuerus, whom 
this narrative in no ways tends to propitiate, only exasperates 
the agony of the poor ex-apostle, who rushes out and goes 
and hangs himself 

As Jesus is led past the workshop of the shoemaker, on hi? 
\tay to execution, the well-known scene of the legend occurs, 
The sufferer faints under the bm'den of the cross, and Simo? 



THE WANDERING JEW. 6 I 

of Cyrene is compelled to carry it. Upon this, Ahasuerus 
comes forward, and sustains the part of those harsh common- 
sense people, who, when they see a man involved in misfor- 
time through his otvti fault, feel no pity, but, struck by an 
untimely sense of justice, make the matter worse by their 
reproaches. As he comes out, he repeats all his former warn- 
ings, changing them into vehement accusations, which his 
attachment to the sufferer seems to justify. The Saviour does 
not answer, but at the instant the lo^dng Veronica covers his 
:*iiCv^ with the napkin, on vfhicn, as she removes it and raises 
It aloft, Ahasuerus sees depicted the features of the Lord, not 
indeed as those of the sufferer of the moment, but as of one 
transfigured and radiant with celestial Kfe. Amazed by this 
phenomenon, he turns away his eyes and hears the words : 
-' Over the earth shalt thou wander till thou shalt once more 
see me in this form." Overwhelmed at the sentence, it is not 
till after some time that the artisan comes to himself; he then 
finds that every one has gone to the place of execution and 
that the streets of Jerusalem are empty. Disquiet and 
curiosity drive him forth, and he begins his wandering. 

I shall, perhaps, speak elsewhere of all this, and of the inci- 
dent by which the poem was ended indeed, but not finished. 
The beginning, some detached passages, and the conclusion, 
were written. But I never completed the work. I lacked 
time for the studies necessary to give it the finish and bearing 
that I wished. The few sheets which I did write were the 
more willingly left to repose in obscurity, as a new and ne- 
cessary epoch was now formed in my mental character by the 
publication of Werther. 

The common fate of man, which all of us have to bear, must 
fall most heavily on those whose intellectual powers expand 
very early. For a time vv^c may grow up under the protection 
of parents and relatives; we may lean for a while upon our 
brothers and sisters and friends, be supported by acquaint- 
ances, and made happy by those we love, but in the end man 
is always driven back upon himself, and it seems as if the 
Divinity had taken a position towards men so as not always 
to respond to their reverence, trust, and love, at least not in 
the precise moment of need. Early enough, and by many a 
hard lesson, had I learned that at the most m-gent crises the 
call to us is, " Ph-ysician, heal thyself;" and how frequently 



38 TEUTPI AND POETHY; PKOM MY OWN LIFE. 

had I been compelled to sigh out in pain, " I tread the wine- 
press alone!" So now, while I was looking about for the 
means of establishing my independence, I felt that the surest 
basis on which to build was my own creative talents. For 
many years I had never known it to fail me for a mo- 
ment. What, waking, I had seen by day, often shaped itself 
mto regular dreams at night, and when I opened my eyes 
there appeared to me either a wonderful new whole, or a 
part of one already commenced. Usually, my time for writ- 
ing was early in the morning, but still in the evening, or even 
late at night, when wine and social intercourse had raised my 
spirits, I was ready for any topic that might be suggested; 
only let a subject of some character be offered, and I was at 
once prepared and ready. While, then, I reflected upon this 
natural gift, and found that it belonged to me as my own, and 
could neither be favoured nor hindered by any external mat- 
ters, I easily in thought built my whole existence upon it. 
This conception soon assumed a distinct form ; the old mytho- 
logical image of Prometheus occurred to me, who, separated 
from the gods, peopled a world from his own work-shop, 
I clearly felt that a creation of importance could be produced 
only when its author isolated himself. My productions which 
had met with so much applause were children of solitude, and 
since I had stood in a wider relation to the world, I had not 
been wanting in the power or the pleasure of invention, but 
the execution halted, because I had, neither in prose nor in 
verse, a style properly my own, and, consequently, with every 
new work, had always to begin at the beginning and try ex- 
periments. As in this I had to decline and even to exclude 
the aid of men, so, after the fashion of Prometheus, I separated 
myself from the gods also, and the more naturally as with my 
character and mode of thinking one tendency always sv/allowed 
up and repelled all others. 

The fable of Prometheus became living in me. The old 
Titan web I cut up according to my own measurements, and 
without further reflection began to write a piece in which was 
painted the difiiculty Prometheus was placed in with respect 
to Jupiter and the later gods, in consequence of his making- 
men with his own hand, giving them life by the aid of Minerva, 
and founding a third dynasty. And, in fact, the reigning 
gods had good cause to feel aggrieved, since they might now 



PROMETHEUS. 39 

appear in the light of wrongful intruders betv/een the Titans 
and men. To this singular composition belongs as a mono- 
logue that poem, which has become remarkable in GermaiL 
literature, by having called forth a declaration from Lessing 
against Jacobi on certain weighty matters of thought and 
feeling. It thus served as the match to an explosion which 
revealed and brought into discussion the most secret relations 
of men of worth; — relations of which they perhaps were not 
themselves conscious, and which were slumbering in a society 
otherwise most enlightened. The schism was so violent, that, 
with the concurrence of further incidents, it caused us the 
loss of one of our most valuable men, namely, Mendelssohn. 

Although philosophical and even religions considerations 
may be, and before now have been attached to this subject, 
still it belongs peculiarly to poetry. The Titans are the foil 
of polytheism, as the devil may be considered the foil of 
monotheism, though, like the only God to whom he stands in 
contrast, he is not a poetic figure. The Satan of Milton, 
though boldly enough drawn, still remains in the disadvan- 
tageous light of a subordinate existence attempting to destroy 
the splendid creation of a higher being ; Prometheus, on the 
contrary, has this advantage, that, even in spite of superior 
beings, he is able to act and to create. It is also a beautiful 
thought, and well suited to poetry, to represent men as created 
not by the Supreme Ruler of the world, but by an interme- 
diate agent, who, however, as a descendant of the most ancient 
dynasty, is of worth and importance enough for such an office. 
Thus, and indeed under every aspect, the Grecian mythology 
is an inexhaustible mine of divine and human symbols. 

Nevertheless, the Titanic, gigantic, heaven-storming cha- 
racter afibrded no suitable material for my poetic art. It bet- 
ter suited me to represent that peaceful, plastic, and always 
patient opposition which recognising the superior power, still 
presumes to claim equality. And yet the bolder members of 
the race, Tantalus, Ixion, Sisyphus, were also my saints. Ad- 
mitted to the society of the gods, they would not deport 
themselves submissively enough, but, by their haughty bear- 
ing as guests, provoked the anger of their host and patron, 
and drew upon themselves a sorrowful banishment. J pitied 
them ; their condition had akeady been set forth by the an- 
oients as truly tragic, and when I introduced tlieni in the 



40 TRUTH AND POETlli:; PROM MY OWJST LIFE. 

back-ground of my Tphigenie, I was indebted to them for a 
part of the effect which that piece had the good fortune to 
produce. 

At this period I usually combined the art of design with 
poetical composition. I drew the portraits of my friends in 
profile on grey paper, in white and black chalk. Whenever I 
dictated or listened to reading, I sketched the positions of the 
writer and reader, with the surrounding objects; the resem- 
blance could not be denied, and the drawings were well re- 
ceived. Dilettanti always have this advantage because they 
give their labor for nothing. But feeling the insufficiency of 
this copying, I betook myself once more to language and 
rhythm which were much more at my command. How 
briskly, how joyously and eagerly I went to work with them 
will appear from the many poems which, enthusiastically pro- 
claiming the art of nature, and the nature of art, infused, at 
the moment of their production, new spirit into me as well 
as into my friends. 

At this epoch, and in the midst of these occupations, I was 
sitting one evening with a struggling light in my chamber, to 
which at least the air of an artist's studio was thus imparted, 
while the walls, stuck over and covered with half-finished 
works, gave the impression of great industry, when there 
entered a well-formed, slender man, whom, at first, in the 
twilight, I took for Fritz Jacobi, but soon, discoverinoj my 
mistake, greeted as a stranger. In his free and agreeable 
bearing a certain military air was perceptible. He announced 
himself by the name of Von Knebel, and from a brief intro- 
duction I gathered that he was in the Prussian service, and 
that dming a long residence at Berlin and Potsdam he had 
actively cultivated an acquaintance with the literary men of 
those places, and with German literature in general. He had 
attached himself particularly to Kamler, and had adopted his 
mode of reciting poems. He was also familiar with all that 
Gotz had written, who, at that time, had not as yet made a 
name among the Germans. Through his exertions the Mdd- 
cheninsel (Isle of Maidens) of this poet had been printed at 
Potsdam, and had fallen into the hands of the king, who was 
said to have expressed a favorable opinion of it. 

We had scarcely talked over these subjects of general in- 
terest ill German literature, before I learned, much to my 



STATE OF -W^EIMAE. 41 

satisfaction, tliat lie was at present stationed in Weimar, and 
was appointed the companion of Prince Constantin, Of mat- 
ters there I had abeady heard much that was favorable ; for 
several strangers, who had come from Weimar, assured us 
that the Duchess Amalia had gathered round her the best 
men to assist in the education of the princes her sons ; that 
the Academy of Jena, through its admirable teachers, had also 
contributed "its part to this excellent purpose ; and that the 
arts were not only protected by this princess, but were prac- 
tised by her with great diligence and zeal. We also heard 
that Wieland was in especial favor. The Deutsche MerJcur, 
too, which united the labors of so many scholars in other 
places, contributed not a little to the fame of the city in which 
it was published. There also was one of the best theatres 
in Germany, which was made famous by its actors, as well as 
by the authors who wrote for it. These noble institutions and 
plans seemed, however, to have received a sudden check, and 
to be threatened with a long interruption, in consequence of 
the terrible conflagration of the castle, which took place in the 
May of that year. But the confidence in the hereditary prince 
was so great that every one was convinced not only that the 
damage would be repaired, but that in spite of it every other 
hope would be fully accomplished. As I inquired after these 
persons and things, as if I were an old acquaintance, and 
expressed a wish to become more intimately acquainted with 
them, my visitor replied, in the most friendly manner possible, 
that nothing was easier, since the hereditary prince, with his 
brother, the Prince Constantin, had just arrived in Frankfort, 
and desired to see and know me. I at once expressed the 
greatest willingness to wait upon them, and my new friend 
told me that I must not delay, as their stay Avould not be 
long. In order to equip myself for the visit, I took Von 
Ivnebei to my father and mother, who were surprised at his 
arrival, and the message he bore, and conversed with him 
A\ith great satisfaction. I then proceeded with him to the 
young princes, who received me in a very easy and friendly 
manner; Count Gortz, also, the tutor of the hereditary prince, 
appeared not displeased to see me. Though there was no 
lack of literary subjects for our conversation, accident fur- 
nished the best possible introduction to it, and rendered it at 
once important and profitable. 



42 TKUTH AND POETBT; PKOM MY OY/N LIFE. 

Mdser's Patriotische Fantasien (patriotic Fantasies), that 
-fe to say, the fii-st part of them, were lying on the table, fresh 
from the binder, with the leaves uncut. As I was familiar 
?dth them, while the rest were scarcely acquainted with 
them, I had the advantage of being able to give a complete 
account of the work, and had here a favorable opportunity for 
speaking with a young prince who was sincerely desirous, and 
also firmly determined to make use of his station to do all the 
good in his power. Moser's book, both in its contents and its 
tone, could not but be highly interesting to every German. 
While by other writers division, anarchy, and impotence, had 
been brought as a reproach against the German empire, ac- 
cording to Moser this very number of small states was highly 
desirable, as affording room for the special cultivation of each, 
according to its necessities, which must vary with the site and 
peculiarities of such widely different provinces. In the same 
way, I remarked, that Moser, starting with the city and 
bishopric {Stiff) of Osnaburg, and thence going over the circle 
of Westphalia, set forth its relation to the whole empire, and 
just as he, in the further examination of the subject, unit- 
ing the past with the present, deduced the latter from the 
former, and thus clearly shewed what alterations were desir- 
able or not; so might every ruler, by proceeding in the same 
way, obtain a thorough knowledge of the constitution of the 
state he governs, its connexion with its neighbors and with 
the whole empire, and thus enable himself to judge both the 
present and the future. 

In the course of our conversation, many remarks were 
made with regard to the difference between the States of 
Upper and Lower Saxony; not only their natural productions, 
it was observed, but also their manners, laws, and customs 
had differed from the earliest times, and, according to the 
form of religion and government, had variously modified 
themselves. We endeavoured to obtain a clear view of the 
differences between the two regions, and in this attempt it 
soon appeared how useful it would be to have a good model, 
which, if regarded, not in its individual peculiarities, but in 
the general method on which it had been based, might be ap- 
plied to the most widely differing cases, and thereby might 
br highly serviceable in helping us to form a correct judg- 
iaent. 



PJEIOSPECTS OF A COTJUT-LIFE. 4^ 

This conversation, which was kept up when we were set 
doAvn £\t table, made a better impression in my favor than I 
perhaps deserved. For instead of making such works as be- 
longed to my own sphere of literature the subjects of dis- 
cussion; instead of demanding an imdivided attention for the 
drama and for romance, I appeared while discussing Moser's 
book, to prefer those writers whose talents, proceeding from 
active life, returned to it with immediate benefit, whereas 
works properly poetical, as soaring above mere social and 
material interests, could only be indirectly and accidentally 
profitable. These discussions went on like the stories of the 
Arabian Nights ; one important matter came up after another ; 
many themes were only touched upon without our being able 
to follow them out, and accordingly, as the stay of the young 
princes in Frankfort was necessarily short, they made me pro- 
mise to follow them to Mayence and spend a few days with 
them there. I gave this promise gladly enough, and hastened 
home to impart the agreeable intelligence to my parents. 

My father, however, could not by any means be brought to 
approve of it. In accordance with his sentiments as a citizen 
of the empire, he had always kept aloof from the great, and 
although constantly coming in contact with the charges 
d'affaires of the neighboring princes, he had nevertheless 
avoided all personal relations with them. In fact, courts 
were among the things about which he was accustomed to 
joke. He was not indeed displeased if any one opposed his 
opinions on this head; only he was not satisfied unless his 
opponent maintained his side with wit and spirit. If we 
allowed his '■'' Procul a Jove procul a fulmine'^ to pass, but 
added that with lightning the question was not so much 
whence it came as whither it went; he would bring up the 
old proverb, "With great lords it is not good to eat cherries." 
When to this we replied that it was yet worse to eat with 
dainty people out of one basket, he would not deny the truth 
of this; only he was sm*e to have another proverb ready 
at hand which was to put us to confusion. For since pro- 
verbs and rhyming apophthegms proceed from the people, 
who, while they are forced to obey, like at least to speak 
their vengeance, just as their superiors, on the other hand, 
indemnify themselves by deeds ; and since the poetry of the 
sixteenth century is almost wholly of a nervous didactic cha' 



44 THITTH AND POETKY; EBOM MY OAVN LIFE. 

racter, tliere is in our language no iack of jests and serious 
adages, directed from below upwards. We juniors, however, 
now began to aim from above downwards, fancying ourselves 
something great as we took up the cause of the great. Of 
these sayings and counter- sayings I will here insert a few. 

A. 
Long at court is long in heU, 

B. 
There many good folks warm them well. 

A. 
Such as I am, I'm still mine own, 
To me shall favors ne'er be shown. 

B. 

Blush not a favor to receive. 

For you must take, if you would give. 

A. 

This trouble at the court you catch, 

That where you itch, you must not scratch- 

B. 

The sage, that would the people teach, 
Must scratch a place that does not itch. 

A. 
Those who a slavish office choose, 
One half of life are sure to lose. 
And come what will they may be sure, 
Old Nick the other will secure, 

B. 

Whoe'er with princes is at home. 
Will some day find good fortune come; 
Wh.0 courts the rabble, — to his cost 
Will find that all his year is lost. 

A. 

Though wheat at court seems flourishing 
Doubt that great harvest it will bring, 
Wheii to your barn you deem it brought. 
You'll find that after all 'tis nought. 



PKOSPECTS OF A COUKI-LirE. ^5 

B. 

The wheat that blooms will ripen too, 
For so of old it used to do; 
And if a crop is spoil' d by hail, 
The next year's harvest will not fail. 

A. 

He who would serve hiinself alone, 
Should have a cottage of his own. 

Dwell with his children and his wife, 
Eegale himself wdth light new wine, 
And on the cheapest viands dine ; 

Then nothing can disturb his life 

B. 

So, fi'om a master you'ld be free?— 
Whither think' st thou then to flee? 
Dream not your freedom you will get, 
You have a wife to rule you yet. 
She by her stupid boy is ruled, 
Thus in your cot you still are schooled. 

As I was lately looking up these rhymes ip. some old me- 
morandum books, I fell in with many such jeux d' esprit, in 
w^hich we had amplified pithy old German saws, in order to 
set them ofi" against other proverbs which are equally veri- 
fied by experience. A selection from them may perhaps here- 
after, as an epilogue to the " Puppenspiele" (puppet shows), 
suggest some pleasant reflections. 

But all these rejoinders could not move my father from his 
opinions. He was in the habit of saving his most stringent 
argument for the close of the discussion. This consisted of a 
minute description of Voltaire's adventure with Frederick 
the Second. He told us how the unbounded favor, familiarity, 
mutual obligations, w^ere at once revoked and forgotten; how 
he had lived to see the comedy out in the arrest of that ex- 
traordinary poet and writer by the Frankfort civic guard, on 
the complaint of the Resident Freytag, and the warrant of the 
Bmgomaster Fichard, and his confinement for some time in 
the tavern of the Rose, on the Zeil. To this we might have 
answered in many v>^ays, — among others, that Voltaire was not 
free from blame himself, — but from fiUal respect we always 



46 TEUTH AND poetry; PKOM MY OWN LIFE. 

yielded the point. On the present occasion, when these 
things and others like them were alluded to, I hardly knew 
how to demean myself, for he warned me explicitly, main- 
taining that the invitation was given only to entice me into a 
trap, in order to take vengeance on me for my mischievous 
treatment of the favored Wieland. Fully as 1 was convinced 
of the contrary, yet as I saw but too plainly that a precon- 
ceived opinion, excited by hypochondriac fancies, afflicted my 
worthy father, I was unwilling to act in direct opposition to 
his convictions. StiU I could not find any excuse for failing 
to keep my promise without appearing ungrateful and uncour- 
teous. Unfortunately om- friend Fraulein Von Klettenberg, 
to whose advice we usually resorted in such cases, was 
confined to her bed. In her and my mother I had two 
incomparable companions. I called them Word and Deed ; 
for when the former cast her serene or rather blissful glance 
over earthly things, what was confusion to us children of 
earth, at once grew plain before her, and she could almost 
always point out the right way, because she looked upon the 
labyrinth from above, and was not herself entangled in it. 
When a decision was once made, the readiness and energy of 
my mother could be relied on. While the former had Sight 
for her aid the latter had Faith, and as she maintained her 
serenity in all cases, she was never without the means of 
accomplishing what was proposed or desired. Accordingly 
she was now despatched to our sick friend to obtain her 
opinion, and when this turned out in my favour, she was en- 
treated to gain the consent of my father, who yielded, against 
his belief and will. 

It was in a very cold season of the year that I arrived at 
the appointed hour in Mayence. My reception by the young 
princes and by their attendants, was no less friendly than the 
invitation. The conversation in Frankfort was recalled and 
resumed at the point where it had been broken off. When it 
touched upon the recent German literature and its audacities, 
it was perfectly natural that my famous piece, " Gotter^ 
Helden, und Wieland'' (Gods, Heroes, and Wieland) should 
come up, at which I remarked with satisfaction that the thing 
was regarded with good humor. Being called on to give the 
real history of this/ew d' esprit, which had excited so great at- 
tention, I could not avoid confessing, first of all, that as true 



*' GODS, HEKOES, AND WIELAND." 47 

fellows of the Upper Ehine, we liad no bounds either to oiu- 
liking or disliking. With us, reverence for Shakspeare was 
carried to adoration. But Wieland, with his decided pecu- 
liarity of destroying the interest, both of himself and of his 
readers, had, in the notes to his translation, found much fault 
with the great author, and that in such a way as to vex us 
exceedingly, and to diminish in our eyes, the value of the 
w-ork. We saw that Wieland, whom we had so highly re- 
vered as a poet, and who, as a translator, had rendered such 
great service, was, as a critic, capricious, one-sided, and 
imjust. Besides this, he had deliberately spoken against our 
idols, the Greeks, and this sharpened our hostility yet more. 
It is well known that the Greek gods and heroes are eminent 
not for moral but for glorified physical qualities, for wliich 
reason they afford such splendid subjects to artists. Now 
Wieland, in his Alcesie, had presented heroes and demi-gods 
after the modern fashion. Against this we had nothing to 
say, as every one is at liberty to mould poetic traditions to 
his own ends and way of thinldng. But in the letters on this 
opera, which he inserted in the Merkur, he appeared to us 
unduly to exalt this mode of treating them ; in short, to show 
too much of the partisan, and to commit an unpardonable sin 
against the good ancients and their high"er style, by his ab- 
solute unwillingness to recognise the' strong, healthy nature 
which is the basis of their productions. I told them we had 
hardly discussed these grievances with some vehemence in our 
little society, when my ordinary rage for dramatizing every- 
thing came upon me one Sunday afternoon, and so at one 
sitting, over a bottle of good Bui'gundy, I wrote off the whole 
piece, just as it stands. It was no sooner read to those of my 
colleagues as were present, and received by them with excla- 
mations of delight, than I sent the manuscript to Lenz at 
Strasburg, who appeared enraptured with it, and maintained 
that it must be printed without delay. After some corres- 
pondence, I at last consented, and he put it hastily to press at 
Strasburg. Some time afterwards, I learned that this was one 
of the first steps which Lenz took in his design to injure me, 
and to bring me into disgrace with the public ; but at that 
time I neither knew nor surmised anything of the kind. 

In this way I narrated to my new patrons, with perfect 
candour, the innocent origin of the piecCj as well as I knew 



48 TJRUTII AND POETHY; TKOM my O^VN J.LYE. 

it myself, in order to convince them tliat it contained no per- 
sonality, nor any ulterior motive. I also took care to let 
them understand with what gaiety and recklessness w^e were 
accustomed to banter and ridicule each other among ourselves. 
With this, I saw that they were quite content. They almost 
admired the great fear we had les^- any one of ourselves should 
go to sleep upon his laurels. They compared such a society 
to those Buccaneers who, in every moment of repose, are 
afraid of becoming effeminate, and whose leaders, when there 
are no enemies in sight, and there is no one to plunder, will let 
off a pistol tmder the mess-table, in order that even in peace 
there may be no want of wounds and horrors. After consi- 
derable discussion j!?ro and con upon this subject, I was at last 
induced to write Wieland a friendly letter. I gladly availed 
myself of the opportunity, as, in the Merkur, he had spoken 
most liberally of this piece of youthful folly, and as, in 
literary feuds, was almost always his custom, had ended the 
affair in the most skilful manner. 

The few days of my stay at Mayence passed off very plea- 
santly ; for when my new patrons were abroad on visits and 
banquets, I remained with their attendants, drew the por- 
traits of several, or went skating, for which the frozen ditches 
of the fortification afforded excellent opportunity. Ireturned 
home full of the kindness I had met with, and, as I entered 
the house, was on the point of emptying my heart by a minute 
account of it ; but I saw only troubled faces, and the convic- 
tion was soon forced upon me that our friend Fraulein von 
Klettenberg was no more. At this I was greatly concerned, 
because, in my present situation I needed her more than ever. 
They told me for my consolation, that a pious death had 
crowmed her happy life, and that the cheerfulness of her faith 
had remained undisturbed to the end. But there was also 
another obstacle in the way of a free commimication on the 
subject of my visit My father, instead of rejoicing at the for- 
tunate issue of this little adventm^e, persisted in his opinion, 
and maintained, on the other hand, that it was nothing but dis- 
simulation, and that perhaps there was a danger of their car- 
rying out in the end something still worse against me. I was 
thus driven to my younger friends with my narrative, and to 
them I could not tell it circumstantially enough. But, their 
attachment and good will, led to a result which to me was 



THE PSOMETHEUS AND HIS EEVIEWEES. 49 

most unpleasant. Shortly afterwards, appeared a pamphlet, 
called " Prometheus, Deucalion and his Ee viewers," also in a 
dramatic form. In this the comical notion was carried out, of 
putting little wood-cut figures before the dialogue, instead of 
proper names, and representing by all sorts of satiiical images 
those critics who had expressed an opinion upon my works, 
or on works akin to them. In one place the Altona 
courier, without his head, was blowing his horn, here a 
bear was grow^ling, and there a goose was cackling. The 
Merkui\ too, was not forgotten, and many wild and 
tame animals were represented in the atelier of the sculp- 
tor endeavoring to put him out, while he, without taking 
particular notice of them, kept zealously at his work, and did 
not refrain from expressing his opinion, about the matter in 
general. The appearance of this jeu d' esprit surprised me 
niuch, and was as unexpected as it was disagreeable. Its style 
and tone evidently showed that it was by one of our society, 
and indeed I feared it might be attributed to me. But what 
was most annoying, was the circumstance that "Prometheus" 
brought out some allusions to my stay at Mayence and to 
what w^as said there, which nobody but myself could have 
known. To me this w^as a proof that the author was one ol 
those who formed my most intimate circle of friends, where, 
he must have heard me relate these events in detail. Ac- 
cordingly we all looked at each other, and each suspected the 
rest, but the unknown writer managed very well to keep his 
own secret. I uttered vehement reproaches against him, 
because it was exceedingly vexatious to me, after so gracious 
a reception and so important a conversation, and after the 
confiding letter I had written to Wieland, to see here an 
occasion for fresh distrust and disagreement. Plow^ever my 
uncertainty on this point w^as not of long duration. As I 
walked up and down my room reading the book aloud, I heard 
clearly in the fancies and the tm-ns of expression the voice of 
Wagner — and it Was he. When I had rushed dov/n stairs to 
impart my discovery to my mother, she confessed to me that 
she ah-eady knew it. Annoyed at the ill results of what had 
seemed to him a good and praiseworthy plan, the author had 
discovered himself to her, and besought her intercession with 
me, not to fulfil in his person my threat of holding no further 
intercourse with the writer who had so abused my confidence/ 
Vol. II. s 



50 TRUTH AND POETHY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

The fact that I had found him out myself was yery much ia 
his favour, and the satisfaction always attending a discovery 
of one's own, inclined me to be merciful. The fault which 
had given occasion for such a proof of my sagacity, was for- 
given. Nevertheless, it was not easy to convince the pubHc 
that Wagner was the author, and that I had had no hand 
in the game. No one believed that he possessed such versa- 
tility of talent ; and no one reflected, that it was very easy 
for him, though possessing: no remarkable talents of his own, 
to notice, seize upon, and bring out in his own way all that 
for some time had passed either in jest and earnest in an 
intellectual society. And thus on this occasion as on many 
others afterwards, I had to suffer not only for my own follies, 
but also for the indiscretion and precipitancy of my friends. 

As the remembrance of them is here suggested by many 
circumstances, I will speak of some distinguished men who, 
at different times, on their passage through Frankfort, either 
lodged at our house or partook of our friendly hospitality. 
Once more Klopstock stands justly at the head. I had akeady 
exchanged several letters with him, when he announced to 
me that he was invited to go to Carlsruhe and to reside there ; 
that he would be in Friedberg by a specified day, and wished 
that I would come there and fetch him. I did not fail to be 
there at the hour. He, however, had been accidently detained 
upon the road; and after I had waited in vain for some days, 
I went home, where he did not arrive till after some time, and 
then excused his delay, and received very kindly my readiness 
to come to meet him. His person was small but well-built ; his 
manners without being stiff, were serious and precise ; his con- 
versation was measured and agieeable. On the whole there 
was something of the diplomatist in his bearing. Such a 
man undertakes the difficult task of supporting, at the same 
time, his own dignity, and that of a superior to whom he is 
responsible ; of advancing his own interest, together with the 
much more important interest of a prince, or even of a whole 
State ; and of making himself, beyond all things, pleasing to 
other men while in this critical position. In tnis way Klop- 
stock appeared to bear himself as a man of worth and as the 
representative of other things — of religion, of morality and 
freedom. He had also assumed another peculiarity of men 
of the world — ^namely, not readily to speak on subjects upoa 



ZIMMEEMANN. 51 

wliich he was particularly expected and desired to discourse. 
He was seldom heard to mention poetic and literary subjects. 
But as lie found in me and my friends a set of passionate 
skaters, lie discoursed to us at length on this noble art, on 
which he had thought much, having considered what in it 
was to be sought, and what avoided. Still, before we could 
receive the instruction he proffered, we had to submit to be 
put right as to the word itself, in which we blundered.-'* We 
spoke in good Upper- Saxon of Schlittschuhen, which he would 
not allow to pass at all; for the word, he said, does not come 
from Schlitten (sledge), as if one w^ent on little runners, but 
from Schreiten (to stride), because like the Homeric gods the 
skater strides away on these winged shoes over the sea frozen 
into a plain. Next we came to the instrument itself. He 
would have nothing to do with the high grooved skates, but 
recommended the low, broad, smooth-bottomed Friseland 
steel skates as the most serviceable for speed. He was no 
friend to the tricks of art which are usually performed in this 
exercise. I procured, according to his advice, a pair of 
smooth skates, with long toes, and used them for several 
years, though with some discomfort. He understood, too, 
the science of horsemanship and horse-breaking, and Hked to 
talk about it ; thus, as if by design, he avoided all conversation 
upon his own profession, that he might speak with greater 
freedom about arts quite foreign to it, which he pursued only 
as a pastime. I might say much more of these and other 
peculiarities of this extraordinary man, if those who lived 
longer with him had not already informed us fully about 
them. One observation, however, I will not suppress, which 
is, that men whom Nature, after endowing them with uncom- 
mon advantages, has placed in a narrow circle of action, or 
at least in one disproportioned to their powers, generally fall 
into eccentricities; and as they have no opportunity of 
making direct use of their gifts, seek to employ them in an 
extraordinary or whimsical manner. 

Zimmermann was also for a time our guest. He was tall 
and powerfully built; of a vehement nature open to every 

* There are two words used for " skate." One of them Schliftschuh, 
means " sledge-shoe; the other Schrittschuch, means " stride-shoe." 
Gothe and liis friends make use of the former; Klopstock rontends for 
the latter. 

K 2 



62 TRUTH AND POET"RY ; TEOM MY OWN LIFE. 

impulse ; yet lie had his outward bearing and manners per- 
fectly under control, so that in society he appeared as a 
skilful physician and polished man of the world. It was 
only in his writings and amongst his most confidential friends, 
that he gave free course to his untamed inward character. 
His conversation was varied and highly instructive, and for 
one who could pardon his keen sensitiveness to whatever 
grated on his own personal feelings and merits, no more 
desirable companion could be found. For myself, as what 
is called vanity never disturbed me, and I in return often 
presumed to be vain also — that is, did not hesitate to enlarge 
upon whatever in myself pleased me, I got on with him capi- 
tally. We mutually tolerated and scolded each other, and, 
as he showed himself thoroughly open and communicative, I 
learned from him a great deal in a short time. 

To judge such a man with the indulgence of gratitude, nay 
on principle, I cannot say that he was vain. We Germans 
misuse the word " vain" {citeT), but too often. In a strict 
sense, it carries with it the idea of emptiness, and we pro- 
perly designate by it only the man who cannot conceal his 
joy at his Nothing, his contentment with a hollow phantom. 
With Zimmermann it was exactly the reverse ; he had great 
deserts, and no inward satisfaction. The man who cannot 
enjoy his own natural gifts in silence, and find his reward in 
the exercise of them, but must wait and hope for their 
recognition and appreciation by others, will generally find 
himself but badly off, because it is but too well known a fact 
that men are very niggard of their applause; that they rather 
love to mingle alloy with praise, and where it can in. any 
degree be done, to turn it into blame. Whoever comes 
before the public without being prepared for this, will meet 
with nothing but vexation; since, even if he does not over- 
estimate his own production, it still has for him an unlimited 
value, while the reception it meets with in the world, is 
in every case qualified. Besides, a certain susceptibility is 
necessary for praise and applause, as for every other pleasure. 
Let this be applied to Zimmermann, and it will be acknow- 
ledged in his case too; that no one can obtain what he does 
not bring with him. 

If this apology cannot be allowed, stiU less shall we be able 
to justify another fault of this remarkable man, because it 



ZIMMBRMANN. 53 

disttirl3ed and even destroyed the happiness of others. I mean 
his conduct towards his children. A daughter, who travelled 
with him, stayed with ns while he visited the neighbouring 
scenes. She might be about sixteen years old, slender 
and well formed, but without attractiveness ; her regular 
features would have been agreeable, if there had appeared in 
them a trace of animation, but she was always as quiet as a 
statue ; she spoke seldom, and in the presence of her father 
never. But she had scarcely spent a few days alone with my 
mother, receiving the cheerful and affectionate attentions of 
this sympathizing woman, than she threw herself at her feet 
with an opened heart, and with a thousand tears, begged 
to be allowed to remain with her. With the most passionate 
language she declared that she would remain in the house 
as a servant, as a slave all her life, rather than go back with 
her father, of whose severity and tyi-anny no one could form 
an idea. Her brother had gone mad under his treatment; 
she had hitherto borne it though with difficulty, because she 
had believed that it was the same, or not much better, in 
every family, but now" that she had experienced such a loving, 
mild and considerate treatment, her situation at home had 
become to her a perfect hell. My mother was greatly moved 
as she related to me this passionate effusion, and indeed, she 
went so far in her sympathy, as to give me pretty clearly to 
imderstand, that she would be content to keep the girl in the 
house, if I w^ould make up my mind to marry her. If she 
were an orphan, I replied, I might think and talk it over; 
but God keep me from a father-in-law w^ho is 3uch a father ! 
My mother took great pains wdth the poor girl, but this 
made her only the more unhappy. At last an expedient 
was found, by putting her to a boarding-school. Her life, 
I should observe in passing, was not a very long one. 

I should hardly mention this culpable peculiarity of a man 
of such great deserts, if it had not already become a matter 
of public notoriety, and especially had not the unfortunate 
hypochondria, with which, in his last hours, he tortured 
himself and others, been commonly talked of. For that 
severity towards his children was nothing less than hypo- 
chondria, a partial insanity, a continuous moral murder, 
which, after making his children its victims, was at last 
directed against himself. We must also remember that 



54 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

though apparently in such good health, he was a great 
sufferer even in his best years; — that an incurable disease 
troubled the skilful physician who had relieved, and still 
gave ease to so many of the afflicted. Yes, this distinguished 
man, with all his outward reputation, fame, honour, rank, 
and wealth, led the saddest life, and whoever will take the 
pains to learn more about it from existing publications, will 
not condemn but pity him. 

If it is now expected that I shall give a more precise ac- 
count of the effect which this distinguished man had upon 
me, I must once more recall the general features of that 
period. The epoch in which we were living might be called 
an epoch of high requisitions, for every one demanded of 
himself and of others what no mortal had hitherto accom- 
plished. On chosen spirits who could think and feel, a light 
had arisen, which enabled them to see that an immediate, 
original understanding of nature, and a course of action based 
upon it, was both the best thing a man could desire, and 
also not difficult to attain. Experience thus once more 
became the universal watchword, and every one opened his 
eyes as wide as he could. Physicians, especially, had a most 
pressing call to labour to this end, and the best opportunity 
for finding it. Upon them a star shone out of antiquity, 
which could serve as an example of all that was to be desired. 
The writings which had come down to us under the name of 
Hippocrates, furnished a model of the way in which a man 
should both observe the world and relate what he had seen, 
without mixing up himself with it. But no one considered 
that we cannot see like the Greeks, and that we shall never 
become such poets, sculptors, and physicians as they were. 
Even granted that we could learn from them, still the results 
of experience already gone through, were almost beyond 
number, and besides were not always of the clearest kind; 
moreover had too often been made to accord with precon- 
ceived opinions. All these were to be mastered, discrimi- 
nated, and sifted. This also, was an immense demand. 
Then again it was required that each observer, in his per- 
sonal sphere and labours, should acquaint himself with the 
true, healthy nature, as if she were now for the first time 
noticed, and attended, and thus only what was genuine and 
real was to be learned. But as, in general, learning can 



ZIMMERMANN. 65 

never exist without tlie accompaniment of a universal smat- 
tering and a universal pedantry, nor the practice of any 
profession without empiricism and charlatanry, so there 
sprung up a violent conflict, the purpose of which was to 
guard use from abuse, and place the kernel high above the 
shell in men's estimation. In the execution of this design, 
it was perceived that the shortest way of getting out of the 
aflfeir, was to call in the aid of genius, whose magic gifts 
could settle the strife, and accomplish what was required. 
Meanwhile, however, the understanding meddled with the 
matter; all it alleged must be reduced to clear notions, and 
exhibited in a logical form, that every prejudice might be 
put aside, and all superstition destroyed. And since the 
achievements of some extraordinary men, such as Boerhaave 
and Haller, were actually incredible, people thought them- 
selves justified in demanding even still more from their pupils 
and successors. It was maintained that the path was opened, 
forgetting that in earthly things a path can very rarely be 
spoken of; for, as the water that is dislodged by a ship, 
instantly flows in again behind it, so by the law of its nature, 
when eminent spirits have once driven error aside, and made 
a place for themselves, it very quickly closes upon them again. 

But of this the ardent Zimmermann could form no idea what- 
ever ; he would not admit that absurdity did in fact fill up the 
world. Impatient, even to madness, he rushed to attack every- 
thing that he saw and behoved to be wrong. It was all the 
same to him whether he was fighting with a nurse or with 
Paracelsus, with a quack, or a chemist. His blows fell alike 
heavily in either case, and when he had worked himself out 
of breath, he was greatly astonished to see the heads of this 
hydra, which he thought he had trodden imder foot, springing 
up all fresh again, and showing him their teeth from innumer- 
able jaws. 

Every one who reads his writings, especially his clever 
vrork "On Experience," will perceive more distinctly than I 
can express them, the subjects of discussion between this excel- 
lent man and myself. His influence over me, was the more 
powerful, as he was twenty years my senior. Having a high 
reputation as a physician, he was chiefly employed am ong the 
upper classes, and the corruption of the times, caused by effe^ 
minacy and excess, was a constant theme of Gonversatioc with 



56 TKUTK AND POETBY; FROM MY OWI'5' LIFE. 

him. Thus his medical discourses, like those of the philoso- 
phers and my poetical friends, di'ove me again back to natui'e. 
In his vehement passion for improvement I could not ftdly 
participate; on the contrary, after we separated, I instantly 
drew back into my own proper calling, and endeavoured to 
employ the gifts nature had bestowed upon me, with moderate 
exertion, and by good-natiii*ed opposition to what I disap- 
proved of, to gain a standing for myself, in perfect indifference 
how far my influence might reach or whither it might lead me. 
Von Salis, who was ■^setting up the large boarding school 
at Marschlins, visited us also at that time. He was an ear- 
nest and intelligent man, and must have quietly made many 
humorous observations on the irregular though genial mode 
of life in our little society. The same was probably the case 
with Sulzer, who came in contact with us on his journey to 
the south of France ; at least a passage in liis travels where he 
speaks of me, seems to favor this opinion. 

These visits, which were as agreeable as they were profit- 
a,ble, were however diversified by others which we would 
rather have been spared. Needy and shameless adventurers 
fixed themselves on the confiding youth, supporting their 
urgent demands by real as well as fictitious relationships and 
misfortunes. They borrowed my money, and made it neces- 
sary for me to borrow in turn, so that I in consequence fell 
into the most unpleasant position with opulent and Idnd- 
hearted friends. If I -v^ished that all these unfortunate folks 
were food for the crows, my father found himself in the situa- 
tion of the Tyro in Witchcraft* v/ho was willing enough 
to see his house washed clean, but is frightened when the 
flood rushes in without ceasing, over threshold and stairs. By 
an excessive kindness, the quiet and moderate plan of life 
which my father had designed for me was step by step inter- 
rupted and put off, and from day to day changed contrary 
to all expectation. All idea of a long visit to Eatisbon and 
Vienna was as good as given up ; but still I was to pass 
through those cities on my way to Italy, so as at least to gain 
a general noiion of them. On the other hand, some of my 
friends, who did not appxove of taking so long a circuit, in 
order to get into active life, recommended that I should take 
advantage of a momeni which seemed in every way favorable, 
* The allusion, fg to Gothe's own poem '*Der Zaubfiilehrling. 



PLANS FOR SETTLING IN LIFE. bt 

and tliink on a permanent establislinient in my natiye city. 
Although the Council were closed against me, first by mv 
grandfather and then by my uncle, there were yet many ci\il 
offices to which I could lay claim, where I could remain for a 
time and await the futm-e. There were agencies of several 
kinds which offered employment enough, and the place of 
a charge cVaffaires was highly respectable. I suffered myself 
to be persuaded, and believed also, that I might adapt myself 
to this plan, without having tried v/hether I was suited i^r 
such a mode of life and business as requires that amid dis- 
sipation, we should most of all act for a certain end. To 
these plans and designs there was now added a tender senti- 
ment which seemed to draw me towards a domestic life and 
to accelerate my determination. 

The society of young men and women abeady mentioned, 
which was kept together by, if it did not owe its origin to, my 
sister, still survived after her marriage and departure, because 
the members had grown accustomed to each other, and could 
not spend one evening in the week better than in this friendly 
4,ircle. The eccentric orator also whose acquaintance we made 
in the sixth book, had, after many adventures, returned to us, 
more clever and more per^^erse than ever, and once again 
played the legislator of the little state. As a sequel to our 
foi-mer diversions he had devised something of the same kind; 
he enacted that every week lots should be drawn, not as 
before to decide what pairs should be lovers, but married 
couples. How lovers should conduct themselves towards each 
other, he said, we knew well enough; but of the proper deport- 
ment of husbands and wives in society we were totally igno- 
rant, and this, with our increasing years, we ought to learn 
before all things. He laid down general rules, which, of course, 
set forth that we must act as if we did not belong to each 
other; that we must not sit or speak often together, much 
less indulge in anything like caresses. And at the same time 
we were not only to avoid everytmng which would occasion 
mutual suspicion and discord, but, on the contrary, he was to 
win the greatest praises, who, with his free and open manners 
should yet most endear to himself his wife. 

The lots were at once drawn ; some odd matches that they 
decided were laughed at and joked about, and the universal 
marriage-comedy was begun in good humour and renewed 
every week. 



58 TKUTH AKD poetky; fbom my own life. 

Now it fell ont strangely enough, that from the first the 
same lady fell twice to me. She was a very good creature, 
just such a woman as one would like to think of as a wife. 
Her figure was beautiful and well-proportioned, her face pleas- 
ing, while in her manners there pt^evailed a repose which 
testified to the health of her mind and body. Every day and 
hour she was perfectly the same. Her domestic industry 
was in high repute. Though she was not talkative, a just 
understanding and natural talents could be recognised in her 
language. To meet the advances of such a person with 
friendliness and esteem was natural; on a general principle 
1 was already accustomed to do it, and now I acted from a 
sort of traditional kindness as a social duty. But when the 
lot brought us together for the third time, our jocose law- 
giver declared in the most solemn manner that Heaven had 
spoken, and we could not again be separated. We submitted 
to his sentence, and both of us adapted ourselves so well to 
our public conjugal duties, that we might really have ser^^ed 
as a model. Since all the pairs who were severally united 
for the evening, were obliged by the general rules to address 
each other for the few hours with Du (thou), we had, after 
a series of weeks, grown so accustomed to this confidential 
pronoun, that even in the intervals whenever we accidentally 
came together, the Bu would kindly come out.* Habit is 
a, strange thing; by degrees both of us found that nothing 
was more natural than this relation. I liked her more and 
more, while her manner of treating me gave evidence of a 
beautiful calm confidence, so that on many an occasion if a 
priest had been present we might have been united on the 
sj)ot without much hesitation. 

As at each of our social gatherings something new was 
required to be read aloud, I brought with me one evening a 
perfect novelty, The Memoir of Beaumarchais against Clavigo, 
in the original. It gained great applause. The thoughts to 
which it gave occasion were freely expressed, and after much 
had been spoken on both sides, my partner said: "If I were 
thy liege lady and not thy wife, 1 would entreat thee to 

* Members of the same family address each other with the secon,'] 
person singular, "Dn," instead of the more formal third person plura», 
"Sie." In the same vvray the French employ "Tu." instead of "Vous."' 



THE CLAVIGO. 59 

change this memoii' into a play: it seems to me perfectly 
Buited for it." " That thou mayst see, my love," I replied, 
" that liege lady and wife can be united in one person, I pro- 
mise that, at the end of a week, the subject-matter of this 
work, in the form of a piece for the theatre, shall be read 
aloud, as has just been done with these pages." They won- 
dered at so bold a promise, but I did not delay to set about 
accomplishing it. What, in such cases, is called invention, 
was with me instantaneous. As I was escorting home my 
titular}'- wife I was silent. She asked me Avhat was the 
matter? "lam thinldng out the play," I answered, "and 
have got abeady into the middle of it. I wished to show 
thee that I. would gladly do anything to please thee." She 
pressed my hand, and as I in return snatched a kiss, she said: 
"Thou must forget thy character! To be loving, people 
think, is not proper for married folks." " Let them think," 
I rejoined, " we will have it our own w^ay." 

Before I got home, and indeed I look a very circuitous 
route, the piece was pretty far advanced. Lest this should 
seem boastful, I will confess that previously, on the first and 
second reading, the subject had appeared to me dramatic 
and even theatrical, but, without such a stimulus, this piece, 
like so many others, would have remained among the number 
of the merely possible creations. My mode of treating it is 
well enough kno^vn. Weary of villains, who, from revenge, 
hate, or mean pm-poses, attack a noble nature and luin it, 
I wished, in Carlos, to show the working of clear good 
sense, associated with true friendship, against passion, inclina- 
tion and outward necessity; in order, for once, to compose a 
tragedy in this way. Availing myself of the example of our 
patriarch Shakspeare, I did not hesitate for a moment to 
translate, word for word, the chief scene, and all that was pro- 
perly dramatic in the original. Finally, for the conclusion, I 
borrowed the end of an English ballad, and so I was ready 
before the Friday came. The good effect which I attained in 
the reading will easily be believed. My liege spouse took 
not a little pleasure in it, and it seemed as if, by this produc- 
tion, as an intellectual offspring, our union was drawn closer 
and dearer. 

Mephistopheles Merck here did me, for the first time, a 
great injuiy. When I communicated the piec^ to hiin lie 



GO THUTII AND POETHY; FB.O?,I MY OWN LIFE. 

answered: ".You must wri^-^. hereafter no more such trifles ; 
others can do such things." In this he was wrong. We 
should not, in all things, transcend the notions which men 
have already formed; it is good that much should be in ac- 
cordance with the common way of thinking. Had I at that 
time written a dozen such pieces, which with a little stimulus 
would have been easy enough, three or four of them would 
perhaps have retained a place on the stage. Every theatrical 
manager who knows the value of a repertoire, can say what 
an advantage that would have been. 

By these, and other intellectual diversions, om- whimsical 
game of marriage became a family story, if not the talk of 
the town, which did not sound disagreeably in the ears of the 
mothers of our fair ones. My mother, also, was not at all 
opposed to such an event; she had before looked with favor 
on the lady with whom I had fallen into so strange a relation, 
and did not doubt that she would make as good a daughter- 
in-law as a wife. The aimless bustle in v/hich I had for some 
time lived was not to her mind, and, in fact, she had to bear 
the worst of it. It was her part to provide abundant en- 
tertainment for the stream of guests, without any compensa- 
tion for furnishing quarters to this literary army, other than 
the honor they did her son by feasting upon him. Besides, ' 
it was clear to her that so many young persons — all of them 
without property— -united not only for scientific and poetic 
purposes, but also for that of passing the time in the gayest 
manner, would soon become a burthen and injmy to them- 
selves, and most certainly to me, whose thoughtless generosity 
and passion for becoming security for others she too well 
knew. 

Accordingly, she looked on the long-planned Italian jour- 
ney, which my father once more brought forward, as the best 
means of cutting short all these connexions at once. But, in 
order that no new danger might spring up in the wide world, 
she intended first of all to bind fast the union which had already 
been suggested, so as to make a return into my native coun- 
try more desirable, and my final determination more decided. 
Whether I only attribute this scheme to her, or whether she 
had actually formed it with her departed friend, I am not quite 
sure ; enough, that her actions seemed to be based on a well- 
digested plan. I had very often to hear from her a regret 



l^TATRIMONIAL ANTICIPATION'S. 61 

that since Cornelia's marriage our family circle was altogethei 
too small; it was felt that I had lost a sister, my mother 
an assistant, and my father a pupil; nor was this all that 
was said. It happened, as if by accident, that my parents 
met the lady on a walk, invited her into the garden, and 
conversed with her for a long time. Thereupon there was 
some pleasantry at tea-table, and the remark was made with 
a certain satisfaction that she had pleased my father, as she 
possessed all the chief qualities which he as a connoisseur 
of women required. 

One thing after another was now arranged in our first 
story, as if guests were expected; the linen was reviewed, 
and some hitherto neglected furniture was thought of. One 
day I surprised my mother in a garret examining the old 
cradles, among which an immense one of walnut inlaid with 
ivory and ebony, in vv^hich I had formerly been rocked, was 
especially prominent. She did not seem altogether pleased 
when I said to her, that such swing-boxes were quite out of 
fashion, and that now people put babies, with free limbs, into 
a neat little basket, and carried them about for show, by a 
strap over the shoulder, like other small wares. 

Enough;— such prognostics of a renewal of domestic acti- 
vity became frequent, and, as I was in every way submissive, 
the thought of a state which would last through life spread 
a peace over our house and its inhabitants such aa had not 
beeu enjoyed for a long time. * 



* The following note is prefixed by tlie author to the last portion 
of this work. 

Preface. In treating a life's story, progressing in many different 
ways, like this which we have ventured to undertake, it is necessary, in 
order to be intelligible and readable, that some parts of it, connected 
in time should be separated, whilst others which can only be under- 
stood by a connected treatment must be brought together : and the 
whole be so arranged in sections that the reader inspecting it intelli- 
gently may form an opinion on it, and appropriate a good deal for his 
own use. 

We open the present volume with this reflexion, that it may help to 
justify our mode of proceeding: and we add the request that our 
readers will note that the narrative here continued does not exactly 
fit on to the end of the preceding book, though the intention is to 
gather up again the main threads one by one, and to bring on the 
personages as well as the thoughts and actions in a virtually complete 
sequence. 



PAET THE FOUETH, 



NEMO CONTRA DEUM NISI DEUS IPSE. 



SIXTEENTH BOOK. 



What people commonly say of misfortunes : that they never 
come alone : may with almost as much truth be said also of 
good fortune, and, indeed, of other circumstances which often 
cluster around us in a harmonious way ; whether it be by a 
kind of fatality, or whether it be that man has the power of 
attracting to himself all mutually related things. 

At any rate, my present experience shewed me everything 
conspiring to produce an outward and an inward peace. The 
former came to me while I resolved patiently to await the 
result of what others were meditating and designing for me ; 
the latter, however, I had to attain for myself by renewing 
former studies. 

I had not thought of Spinoza for a long time, and now I 
was driven to him by an attack upon him. In our library I 
found a little book, the author of which railed violently against 
that original thinker ; and to go the more effectually to work, 
had inserted for a frontispiece a pictm^e of Spinoza himself, 
with the inscription : " Signum reprohationis in vultu gerens*' 
bearing on his face the stamp of reprobation. This there 
was no gainsaying, indeed, so long as one looked at the 
picture; for the engraving was wretchedly bad, a perfect 
caricature ; so that I could not help thinking of those adver- 
saries who, when they conceive a dislike to any one, first of 
all misrepresent him, and then assail the monster of their 
own creation. 

This little book, however, made no impression upon me, 
since generally I did not like controversial works, but preferred 
always to learn from the author himself how he did think, 
than to hear from another how he ought to have thought. 
Still, curiosity led me to the article "Spinoza," inBayle's Dic- 
tionary, a work as valuable for its learning and acuteness as 
it is ridiculous and pernicious by its gossiping and scandal. 

The article "Spinoza" excited in me displeasure and mis- 
trust. In the first place, the philosopher is represented as an 
atheist, and his opinions as most abominable; but imme- 
diately afterwards it is confessed that he was a calmly reflec- 



SPIKOZA HIS PHIK-CIPLES. 63 

ting man, devoted to his studies, a good citizen, a pympatliiz^ 
ing neighbour, and a peaceable individual The writer seemed 
to me to have quite forgotten the words of the gospel: "% 
their fruits ye shall knoiv them" for how could a life pleasing 
in the sight of God and man spring from corrupt principles ? 

I well remembered what peace of mind and clearness of 
ideas came over me when I first turned over the posthumous 
works of that remarkable man. The eifect itself was still 
quite distinct to my mind, though I could not recall the par- 
ticulars ; I therefore speedily had recourse again to the work? 
to which I had owed so much, and again the same calm ai.. 
breathed over me. I gave myself up to this reading, an. 
believed, w^hile I looked into myself, that I had neve 
before so clearly seen through the world. 

As, on this subject, there always has been, and still is even 
in these later times, so much controversy, I would not wish to 
be misunderstood, and therefore I make here a few remarks 
upon these so much feared, yea, abhorred views. 

Our physical as well as our social life, manners, customs, 
worldly wisdom, philosophy, religion, and many an accidental 
event, all call upon us, to deny ourselves. Much that is most 
inwardly peculiar to us we are not allowed to develope; 
much that we need from without for the completion of our 
character is withheld ; while, on the other hand, so much is 
forced upon us which is as ahen to us as it is burdensome. 
We are robbed of all that we have laboriously acquired for 
om^selves, or friendly circumstances have bestowed upon us; 
and before we can see clearly what we are, we find our- 
selves compelled to part with our personality, piece by piece, 
till at last it is gone altogether. Indeed, the case is so 
universal that it seems a law of society to despise a man 
who shows himself surly on that account. On the contrary, 
the bitterer the cup we have to drink, the more pleasant face 
must one make, in order that composed lookers on may not 
be offended by the least grimace. 

To solve this painful problem, however, nature has endowed 
man with ample power, activity, and endurance. But especi- 
ally is he aided therein by his volatility {Leichtsinn), a boon to 
man, which nothing can take away. By its means he is able 
to renounce the cherished object of the moment, if only the 
uext presents him something new to reach at ; and thus ha 



64 TRUTH AKD poetry; from my own life. 

goes on unconscioiisly, remodelling his whole life. We are 
continually putting one passion in the place of another; 
employments, inclinations, tastes, hobbies — we try them all, 
only to exclaim at last, All is vanity. No one is shocked by 
this false and murmuring speech; nay, every one thinks, 
while he says it, that he is uttering a wise and indisputable 
maxim. A few men there are, and only a few, Avho anticipate 
this insupportable feeling, and avoid all calls to such partial 
resignation by one grand act of total self-renunciation. 

Such men convince themselves of the Eternal, the Neces- 
sary, and of Immutable Law, and seek to form to themselves 
ideas which are incorruptible., nay which observation of the 
Perishable does not shake, but rather confirms. But since 
in this there is something superhuman, such persons are 
commonly esteemed ^V^-human, without a God and without a 
World. People hardly know what sort of horns and claws 
to give them. 

My confidence in Spinoza rested on the serene efibet he 
wrought in me, and it only increased when I found my 
worthy mystics were accused of Spinozism, and learned that 
even Leibnitz himself could not escape the charge ; nay, that 
Boerhaave, being suspected of similar sentiments, had to 
abandon Theology for Medicine. 

But let no one think that I would have subscribed to his 
^vritings, and assented to them verhatim et literatim. For, 
that no one really understands another ; that no one attaches 
the same idea to the same word which another does ; that a 
dialogue, a book, excites in different persons different trains 
of thought: — ^this I had long seen all too plainly; and the 
reader will trust the assertion of the author of Faust and 
Werther, that deeply experienced in such misunderstandings, 
he was never so presumptuous as to think that he understood 
perfectly a man, who, as the scholar of Descartes, raised 
himself, through mathematical and rabbinical studies, to the 
highest reach of thought ; and whose name even at tliis day 
seems to mark the limit of all speculative efforts. 

How much I appropriated from Spinoza, would be seen 
distinctly enough, if the visit of the "Wandering Jew,' to 
Spinoza, which I had devised as a vforthy ingredient for that 
poem, existed in writing. But it pleased me so much in the 
conception, and I found so much delight in meditating on it 



INFLUENCE OE SPINOZA. 65 

in silence, that T never could bring myself to the point of 
writing it out. Thus the notion, which would have been well 
enough as a passing joke, expanded itself imtil it lost it« 
charm, and I banished it from my mind as something trouble- 
some. The chief points, however, of what I owed to my 
study of Spinoza, so far as they have remained indelibly 
impressed on my mind, and have exercised a great influence 
on the subsequent course of my life, I wiU now unfold as 
briefly and succinctly as possible. 

Nature works after such eternal, necessary, di^dne laws, 
that the Deity himself could alter nothing in them. In this 
belief, all men are unconsciously agreed. Think only how a 
natural phenomenon, which should intimate any degree of 
understanding, reason, or even of caprice, would instantly 
astonish and terrify us. 

If anything like reason shows itself in brutes, it is long 
before we can recover from om* amazement; for, although 
they stand so near to us, they nevertheless seem to be divided 
from us by an infinite gulf, and to belong altogether to the 
kingdom of necessity. It is therefore impossible to take it ill 
if some thinkers have pronounced the infinitely ingenious, 
but strictly limited, organisation of those creatures, to be 
thoroughly mechanical. 

If we tm-n to plants, our position is stiU more strikingly 
confirmed. How unaccountable is the feeling which seizes an 
observer upon seeing the Mimosa, as soon as it is touched, 
fold together in pairs its downy leaves, and finally clap down 
its little stalk as if upon a joint (^Gewerhe). StiU higher rises 
that feeling, to which I will give no name, at the sight of the 
Hedysarum Gyrans, which without any apparent outward 
occasion moves up and down its little leaves, and seems to 
play with itself as with om- thoughts. Let us imagine a 
Banana, suddenly endowed with a similar capacity, so 
that of itself it could by turns let down and Lift up again 
its huge leafy canopy; who would not, upon seeing it the first 
time, start back in terror? So rooted within us is the idea of 
our own superiority, that we absolutely refuse to concede to 
the outward world any part or portion in it; nay, if we could, 
we would too often withhold such advantages from our 
fellows. 

On the other hand, a similar horror seizes upon us, when 
Vol. IIv ^ 



66 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE, 

we see a man unreasonably opposing universally recognised 
moral laws, or unwisely acting against the interest of himself 
and others. To get rid of the repugnance which we feel on 
^uch occasions, we convert it at once into censure or detesta- 
tion, and we seek either in reality or in thought to get free 
from such a man. 

This contrariety between Reason and Necessity, which 
Spinoza threw out in so strong a light, I, strangely enough, 
applied to my own being ; and what has been said is, pro- 
perly speaking, only for the purpose of rendering intelligible 
what follows. 

I had come to look upon my indwelling poetic talent 
altogether as Nature; the more so, as I had always been 
impelled to regard outward Nature as its proper object. 
The exercise of this poetic gift could indeed be excited and 
determined by circumstances ; but its most joyful, its richest 
action was spontaneous — nay, even involuntary. 

Thi'ough field and forest roaming, 
My little songs still humming, 
So went it all day long. 

In my nightly vigils the same thing happened ; I therefore 
often wished, like one of my predecessors, to get me a 
leathern jerkin made, and to accustom myself to write in the 
dark so as to be able to fix down at once all such unpre- 
meditated efiusions. So frequently had it happened that 
after composing a little piece in my head I could not recall 
it, that I would now hurry to the desk and, at one stand- 
ing, write off the poem from beginning to end, and as I 
could not spare time to adjust my paper, however obliquely 
it might lie, the lines often crossed it diagonally. In such a 
mood I liked best to get hold of a lead pencil, because I 
could write m.ost readily with it ; whereas the scratching and 
spluttering of the pen would sometimes wake me from my 
somnambular poetizing, confuse me, and stifle a little concep- 
tion in its birth. For the poems thus created I had a par- 
ticular reverence ; for I felt towards them somewhat as the 
hen does towards her chickens, which she sees hatched and 
chirping about her. My old whim of making known these 
things only by means of private readings, now returned to 
me : to exchange them for money seemed to me detestable. 



HIMBTJUG THE PIKATICAI; BOOKSELLEK. 67 

And this suggests to me to mention in tlie present place a 
little incident, which howeyer did not take place till some time 
after. When the demand for my works had increased and a 
collected edition of them was much called for, these feelings 
held me back from preparing it myself; Himbni'g, howevei', 
took advantage of my hesitation, and I unexpectedly received 
one day several copies of my collected works in print. With 
cool audacity this unauthorized publisher even boasted of 
having done me a pubhc service, and offered to send me, if I 
wished, some Berlin porcelain by way of compensation. His 
offer served to remind me of the law which compelled the 
Jews of BerHn, when they married, to purchase a certain 
quantity of porcelain, in order to keep up the sale of the 
Koyal manufacture. The contempt which was shevm for 
the shameless pirate, led me to suppress the indignation 
which I could not but feel at such a robbery. I gave him no 
reply; and while he was making himself very comfortable 
with my property, I revenged myself in silence with the 
following verses : — 

Records of the years once dream'd away. 
Long fallen hairs, and flow'rs that shew decay, 
Faded ribbons, veils so lightly wove. 
The mournful pledges of a vanished love ; 
Things that to the flames should long have gone, 
— Saucy Sosias snatches every one. 
Just as though he were the heir to claim. 
Lawfully the poets' works and fame. 
And to make the owner full amends 
Paltry tea and coffee-cups he sends ! 
Take your china back, your gingerbread! 
For all Himburgs living I am dead. 

This very Nature, however, which thus spontaneously 
brought forth so many longer and smaller works, was subject 
to long pauses, and for considerable periods I M^as unable, 
even when I most wished it, to produce anything, and con- 
sequently often suffered from ennui. The perception of 
such contrasts within me gave rise to the thought whether, on 
the other hand, it would not be my wisest course to employ 
for my own and others' profit and advantage, the human, 
rational, and intellectual part of my being, and as I already 

f2 



68 TKUTII AND POETKY: FKOJI MY OWN lilFE. 

iiad done, and as I now felt myself more and more called upon 
to do, devote the intervals when Nature ceased to infiuen^e me, 
to worldly occupations, and thus to leave no one of my facalties 
anused. This course, which seemed to be dictated by those 
general ideas before described, was so much in harmony with 
my character and my position in life, that I resolved to adopt 
it and by this means to check the wavering and hesitation to 
which I had hitherto been subject. Very pleasant was it to 
me to reflect, that thus for actual service to my fellow men, 
I might demand a substantial reward, while on the other hand 
'I might go on disinterestedly spending that lovely gift of 
nature as a sacred thing.' By this consideration I guarded 
against the bitterness of feeling which might have arisen 
when circumstances should force upon the remark that pre- 
cisely this talent, so courted and admired in Germany, was 
treated as altogether beyond the pale of the law and of justice. 
For not only were piracies considered perfectly allowable, 
and even comical in Berlin, but the estimable Margrave of 
Baden, so praised for his administrative virtues, and the 
Emperor Joseph who had justified so many hopes, lent their 
sanction, one to his Macklot, and the other to his honorable 
noble von Trattner; and it was declared, that the rights, as 
well as the property of genius, should be left at the absolute 
mercy of the trade. 

One day, when we were complaining of this to a visitor 
from Baden, he told us the following story: Her ladyship 
the Margravine, being a very active lady, had established a 
paper-manufactory; but the paper was so bad, that it was 
impossible to dispose of it. Thereupon Mr. bookseller Mack- 
lot proposed, if he were permitted to print the German poetf? 
and prose writers, he would use this paper, and thus enhance 
its value. The proposition was adopted with avidity. 

Of course, we pronounced this malicious piece of scandal 
to be a mere fabrication; but found our pleasure in it not^ 
withstanding. The name of Macklot became a by- word at 
the time, and was applied by us to all mean transactions, 
xind, a versatile youth, often reduced to borrowing himself, 
while others' meanness was making itself rich upon his 
talents, felt himself sufficiently compensated by a couple of 
good jokes. 



A SCENE AT A FIHE. 69 

Childreu and youths wander on in a sort of happy intoxica- 
tion, which betrays itself especially in the fact, that the good, 
innocent creatures are scarcely able to notice, and still less 
to understand, the ever changing state of things around them. 
They regard the world as raw material which they must shape, 
as a treasure which they must take possession of. Eveiything 
they seem to thinli belongs to them, everything must be 
subservient to their will ; indeed, on this account, the greater 
part lose themselves in a wild uncontrollable temper. With 
the better part, however, this tendency unfolds itself into a 
moral enthusiasm, which;^ occasionally moves of its own 
accord after some actual or seeming good, but still oftener 
suffers itself to be prompted, led, and even misled. 

Such was the case with the youth of whom we are at 
present speaking, and if he appeared rather strange to man- 
kind, still he seemed welcome to many. At the very first 
meeting you found in him a freedom from reserve, a cheerful 
open-heartedness in conversation, and in action the unpreme- 
ditated suggestions of the moment. Of the latter trait a 
story or two. 

In the close-built Jews' street {Judeiigasse), a violent con- 
flagration had broken out. My universal benevolence, which 
prompted me to lend my active aid to all, led me to the spot, 
full dressed as I was. A passage had been broken through 
from All Saints' street (^Allerheiligengasse\ and thither I 
repaired. I found a great number of men busied with carry- 
ing water, rushing forward with ftdl buckets, and back again 
with empty ones. I soon saw that, by forming a lane for 
passing up and do\^Ti the buckets, the help we rendered might 
be doubled. I seized two full buckets and remained standing 
and called others to me ; those who came on were relieved of 
their load, while those retm-ning arranged themselves in a 
row on the other side. The arrangement' was applauded, my 
address and personal sympathy found favor, and the lane, 
unbroken fi'om its commencement to its bm-ning goal, was 
soon completed. Scarcely, however, had the cheerfulness 
which this inspired, called forth a joyous, I might even say, a 
merry humor in this living machine, all of whose parts 
worked well together, when wantonness began to appear, and 
was soon succeeded by a love of mischief. The wretched 
fugitives, dragging off their miserable substance upon their 



70 Tr^UTii AND poethy; phom my own life. 

backs, if they once got within the lane, must pass on without 
stopping, and if they ventured to halt for a moment's rest, 
were immediately assailed. Saucy boys would sprinkle them 
with the water, and even add insult to misery. However, by 
means of gentle words and eloquent reproofs, prompted per- 
haps by a regard to my best clothes, which were in danger, 
I managed to put a stop to their rudeness. 

Some of my friends had from curiosity approached, to gaze 
on the calamity, and seemed astonished to see their com- 
panion, in thin shoes and silk stockings — ^for that was then 
the fashion — engaged in this wet business. But few of them 
could I persuade to join us; the others laughed and shook 
their heads. We stood our ground, however, a long while, 
for, if any were tired and went away, there were plentj 
ready to take their places. Many sight-seers, too, came 
merely for the sake of the spectacle, and so my innocent 
daring became universally kno^vn, and the strange disregard 
of etiquette became the town-talk of the day. 

This readiness to do any action that a good-natured whim 
might prompt, which proceeded from a happy self-consciouso 
ness which men are apt to blame as vanity, made our friend 
to be talked of for other oddities. 

A very inclement winter had completely covered the Main 
with ice, and converted it into a solid floor. The liveliest 
intercourse, both for business and pleasure, was kept up on 
the ice. Boundless skating-paths, and wide, smooth frozen 
plains, swarmed with a moving multitude. I never failed to 
be there early in the morning, and once, being lightly clad, 
felt myself nearly frozen through by the time that my mother 
arrived, who usually came at a later hour to visit the scene. 
She sat in the carriage, in her purple-velvet and fur-trimmed 
cloak, which, held together on her breast by a strong golden 
cord and tassel, looked quite fine. "Give me your furs, dear 
mother!" J. cried out on the instant, without a moment's 
thought, "I am terribly frozen." She, too, did not stop 
to think, and so in a moment I was wrapped in her cloak. 
Reaching half-way below my knees with its purple-colour, 
sable-border, and gold trimmings, it contrasted not badly 
with the brown fur cap I wore. Thus clad, I carelessly went 
on skating up and down ; the crowd was so great that no 
especial natice was taken of my strange appearance; stiU it 



INTKODirCTION TO LILI. 



71 



was not unobserved, for often afterwards it was brouglit up, 
ill jest or in earnest, among my other eccentricities. 

Leaving these recollections of happy and spontaneous 
action, we will now resume the sober thread of our narra- 
tive. 

A wittv Frenchman has said : If a clever man has once 
attracted the attention of the public by any meritorious work, 
every one does his best to prevent his ever doing a similar 
thing again. 

It is even so : something good and spirited is produced in 
the quiet seclusion of youth; applause is won, but indepen- 
dence is lost; the concentrated talent is pulled about and 
distracted, because people think that they may pluck off and 
appropriate to themselves a portion of the personality. 

It was owing to this that I received a great many invita- 
tions, or, rather, not exactly invitations : a friend, an acquaint- 
ance would propose, with even more than urgency, to intro- 
duce me here or there. 

The quasi stranger, now described as a bear on account of 
his frequent sui'ly refusals, and then again like Voltaire's 
Huron, or Cumberland's West Indian, as a child of nature 
in spite of many talents, excited curiosity, and in various 
families negotiations were set on foot to see him. 

Among others, a friend one evening entreated ine to go 
with him to a little concert to be given in the house of an 
eminent merchant of the reformed persuasion. It was already 
late; but as I loved to do everything on the spur of the 
moment, I went with him, decently dressed, as usual. We 
entered a chamber on the ground floor, — ^th© ordinary but 
spacious sitting-room of the family. The company was 
numerous, a piano stood in the middle, at which the only 
daughter of the house sat down immediately, and played with 
considerable facility and grace. I stood at the lower end of 
the piano, that I might be near enough to observe her form 
and bearing ; there was something child-like in her manner ; 
the movements she was obliged to make in playing were 
unconstrained and easy. 

After the sonata was finished, she stepped towards the end. 
of the piano to meet me; we merely saluted, however, 
without further conversation, for a quartet had already com* 



72 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LTPE. 

menced. At the close of it, I moved somewhat nearer and 
uttered some civil compliment ; telling her what pleasure it 
gave me that my first acquaintance with her should have also 
made me. acquainted with her talent. She managed to make 
a very clever reply, and kept her position as I did mine. I 
saw that she observed me closely, and that I was really stand- 
ing for a show ; but I took it all in good part, since I had 
something graceful to look at in my turn. Meanwhile, we 
gazed on one another, and I will not deny that I was sen- 
sible of feeling an attractive power of the gentlest kind. The 
moving about of the company, and her performances, pre- 
vented any further approach that evening. But I must con- 
fess that I was anything but displeased, when, on taking 
leave, the mother gave me to understand that they hoped 
soon to see me again, while the daughter seemed to join in 
the request with some friendliness of manner. I did not fail, 
at suitable intervals, to repeat my visit, since, on such occa- 
sions, I was sure of a cheerful and intellectual conversation, 
which seemed to prophesy no tie of passion. 

In the meantime, the hospitality of our house once laid 
open caused many an inconvenience to my good parents and 
myself. At any rate it had not proved in any way beneficial 
to my steadfast desire to notice the Higher, to study it, to 
further it, and if possible to imitate it. Men, I saw, so far as 
they were good, were pious ; and, so far as they were active, 
were unwise and oftentimes unapt. The former could not 
help me, and the latter only confused me. One remarkable 
case I have carefully written down. 

In the beginning of the year 1775, Jung, afterwards 
called Stilling, from the Lower Rhine, announced to us that he 
was coming to Frankfort, being invited as an oculist, to treat 
an important case; the news was welcome to my parents and 
myself, and we offered him quarters. 

Herr von Lersner, a worthy man advanced in years, univer- 
sally esteemed for his success in the education and training 
of princely children, and for his intelligent manners at court 
and on his travels, had been long afflicted with total blindness ; 
his strong hope of obtaining some relief of his affliction was 
not entirely extinct. Now, for several years past, Jung, with 
much courage and modest boldness, had, in the Lower Ehine, 
successfully couched for the cataract, and thus had gained a 



JUNG OR STILLING. 73 

^vide-spread reputation. The candor of his soul, his truth 
fuhiess of charc^cter, and genuine piety, gained him universal 
confidence ; this extended up the river through the niediun^ 
of various parties connected by business. Herr von Lersner 
and his friends, upon the advice of an intelligent physician, 
resolved to send for the successful oculist, although a Frank- 
fort merchant, in whose case the cure had failed, earnestly 
endeavored to dissuade them. But what was a single failure 
against so many successful cases ! So Jung came, enticed by 
the hope of a handsome remuneration, which heretofore he 
had been accustomed to renounce ; he came, to increase his 
reputation, full of confidence and in high spirits, and we con- 
p;ratulated ourselves on the prospect of such an excellent and 
lively table-companion. 

At last, after a preparatory course of medicine, the cataract 
upon both eyes was couched. Expectation was at its height. 
It was said that the patient saw the moment after the opera- 
tion, until the bandage again shut out the light. But iL was 
remarked that Jung was not cheerful, and that something 
weighed on his spirits; indeed, on further inquiry he con- 
Tessed to me that he was uneasy as to the result of the opera- 
tion. Commonly, for I had witnessed several operations of 
the kind in Strasburg, nothing in the world seeded easier 
than such cases; and Stilling himself had operated success- 
fully a hundred times. After piercing the insensible cornea, 
which gave no pain, the dull lens would, at the slightest pres- 
sure, spring forward of itself; the patient immediately dis- 
cerned objects, and only had to wait with bandaged eyes, 
until the completed cure should allow him to use the precious 
organ at his own wiH and convenience. How many a poor 
man, for whom Jung had procured this happiness, had 
invoked God's blessing and reward upon his benefactor, 
which was now to be realized by means of this wealthy 
patient ! 

Jung confessed to me that this time the operation had not 
gone off so easily and so successfully ; the lens had not sprung 
forward, he had been obliged to draw it out, and indeed, as 
it had grown to the socket, to loosen it; and this he was not 
able to do without violence. He now reproached himself for 
having operated also on the other eye But Lersner and his 
friends had firmlv resolved to have both couched at the same 



74 TRUTH AND POETRY; PROM MY OWK LITE, 

time, and when the emergency occurred, tney did not imme- 
diately recover presence of mind enough to think what was 
best. Suffice it to say, the second lens also did not spontane- 
ously spring forward; but had to be loosened and drawn out 
with difficulty. 

How much pain our benevolent, good-natured, pious friend 
felt in this case, it is impossible to describe or to unfold; some 
general observations on his state of mind will not be out of 
place here. 

To labor for his own moral culture, is the simplest and 
most practicable thing which man can propose to himself; 
the impulse is inborn in him; while in social life both reason 
and love, prompt or rather force him to do so. 

Stilling could only live in a moral religious atmosphere of ' 
love ; without sympathy, without hearty response, he could 
not exist ; he demanded mutual attachment ; where he was^ 
not known, he was silent; where he was only known, not 
loved, he was sad; accordingly he got on best with those 
well-disposed persons, who can set themselves down for life 
in their assigned vocation and go to work to perfect them* 
selves in their narrow but peaceful sphere. 

Such persons succeed pretty well in stiffing vanity, in 
renouncing the pursuit of outward power, in acquiring a cir- 
cumspect way of speaking, and in preserving a uniformly 
friendly manner towards companions and neighbors. 

Frequently we may observe in this class traces of a certain 
form of mental character, modified by individual varieties ; 
such persons, accidentally excited, attach great weight to the 
course of their experience ; they consider everything a super- 
natural determination, in the conviction that God interferes 
immediately with the course of the world. 

With all this there is associated a certain disposition to 
abide in his present state, and yet at the same time to allow 
themselves to be pushed or led on; which results from a certain 
indecision to act of themselves. The latter is increased by 
the miscarriage of the wisest plans, as well as by the acci- 
dental success brought about by the unforeseen concurrence 
of favorable occurrences. 

Now, since a vigilant manly character is much checked by 
this way of life, it is well worthy of reflection and inquiry, 
how men are most liable to fall into such a state. 



STILLING 



75 



The things sympathetic persons of this kind love most to 
talk of, are the so-called awakenings and conversions, to 
which we will not deny a certain psychological value. They 
are properly what we call in scientific and poetic matters, an 
''apergu;'' the perception of a great maxim, which is always 
a genius-like operation of the mind ; we arrive at it by pm-e 
intuition, that is, by reflection, neither by learning or tradi- 
tion. In the cases before us it is the perception of the moral 
power, which anchors in faith, and thus feels itself in proud 
secm-ity in the midst of the waves. 

Such an apergu gives the discoverer the greatest joy, because, 
in an original manner, it points to the infinite ; it requires no 
length of time to work conviction ; it leaps forth whole and 
complete in a moment ; hence the quaint old French rhyme : 

En pen. d'heure 
Dieu labeure. 

Outward occasions often work violently in bringing about 
such conversions, and then people think they see in them 
signs and wonders. 

Love and confidence bound me most heartily to Stilling; 
I had moreover exercised a good and happy influence on his 
life, and it was quite in accordance with his disposition, to 
treasm^e up in a tender grateful heart the remembrance of all 
that had ever been done for him ; but in my existing frame 
of mind and pursuits his societ}'' neither benefited nor cheered 
me. I was glad to let every one interpret as he pleased and 
work out the riddle of his days, but this way of ascribing to 
an immediate divine influence, all the good that after a 
rational manner occurs to us in our chanceful life, seemed 
to me too presumptuous; and the habit of regarding the 
painful consequences of the hasty acts and omissions of our 
own thoughtlessness or conceit, as a di\dne chastisement, did 
not at all suit me. . I could, therefore, only listen to my good 
friend, but could not give him any very encouraging reply ; 
stiU I readily sufiered him, like so many others, to go his 
own way, and defended him since then, as well as before, 
when others, of too worldly a mind, did not hesitate to wound 
his gentle nature. Thus I never allowed a roguish remark 
to come to his ears, made by a waggish man who once very 
earnestly exclaimed: "No! indeed, if I were as intimat^ 



76 TETJTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

With God as Jung is, I would never pray to the Most High 
for gold, but for wisdom and good counsel, that I might not 
make so many blunders which cost money, and draw after 
them wretched years of debt." 

In truth, it was no time for such jests. Between hope and 
fear several more days passed away; with him the latter 
grew, the former waned, and, at last, vanished altogether ; the 
eyes of the good patient man had become imflamed, and there 
remained no doubt that the operation had failed. 

The state of mind to which our friend was reduced hereby, 
is not to be described ; he v>^as struggling against the deepest 
and worst kind of despair. For what was there now that he 
had not lost! In the first place, the warm thanks of one 
restored to sight — the noblest reward which a physician can 
enjoy; then the confidence of others similarly needing help; 
then his worldly credit, while the interruption of his peculiar 
practice would reduce his family to a helpless state. In 
short, we played the mournful drama of Job through from 
beginning to end, since the faithful Jung took himself the 
part of the reproving friends. He chose to regard* this cala- 
TTiity as the punishment of his former faults ; it seemed to 
him that in taking his accidental discovery of an eye-cure as 
a divine call to that business, he had acted wickedly and pro- 
fanely; he reproached himself for not having thoroughly 
studied this highly important department, instead of lightly 
trusting his cures to good fortune ; what his enemies had said 
of him recurred again to his mind; he began to doubt 
whether perhaps it was not all true ? and it pained him the 
more deeply when he found that in the com-se of his life he 
had been guilty of that levity which is so dangerous to pious 
men, and also of presumption and vanity. In such moments 
he lost himself, and in whatever light we might endeavour to 
set the matter, we, at last, elicited from him only the rational 
and necessary conclusion — that the ways of God are unsearch- 
able. 

My unceasing eiforts to be cheerful, would have beeu 
more checked by Jung's visit, if I had not, according to my 
usual habit, subjected his state of mind to an earnest friendly 
examination, and explained it after my own fashion. It 
vexed me not a little to see my good mother so poorly 
rewarded for her domestic care and pains- taking, though she 



stilling's jew patient. 77 

did not herself perceive it, with her usual equanimity and 
ever bustling activity. I was most pained for my father 
On my account he^ with a good grace, had enlarged what 
hitherto had been a strictly close and private cii'cle, and at 
table especially, where the presence of strangers attracted 
familiar "friends and even passing visitors, he liked to indulge 
in a merry, even paradoxical conversation, in which I put 
him in good humor and drew from him many an approving 
smile, by all sorts of dialectic pugilism : for I had an ungodly 
way of disputing everything, which, however, I pertinaciously 
kept up in every case so long only as he, who maintained the 
right, was not yet made perfectly ridiculous. During the 
last few weeks, however, this procedure was not to be thought 
of; for many very happy and most cheering incidents, occa- 
sioned by some successful secondary cures on the part of our 
friend, who had been made so miserable by the failure of his 
principal attempt, did not affect him, much less did they give 
his gloomy mood another turn. 

One incident in particular was most amusing. Among 
Jung's patients there w^as a bhnd old Jewish beggar, who 
had come from Isenburg to Frankfort, where in the extremity 
of wretchedness, he scarcely found a shelter, scarcely the 
meanest food and attendance; nevertheless his tough oriental 
nature helped him through and he was in raptures to find 
himself healed perfectly and without the least suffering. 
When asked if the operation pained him, he said, in his 
hyperbolical manner, " If I had a million eyes, I would let 
them all be operated upon, one after the other, for half a 
Kopfst'ilcW' a'* On his departure he acted quite as eccentrically 
in the Fahrgasse (or main thoroughfare) ; he thanked God, 
and in good old testament style, praised the Lord and the 
wondrous man whom He had sent. Shouting this he walked 
slowly on through the long busy street towards the bridge. 
Buyers and sellers ran out of the shops, sm-prised by this 
singular exhibition of pious enthusiasm, passionately venting 
itself before all the world, and he excited their sympathy to 
Buch a degree, that, without asking anything, he was amply 
furnished with gifts for his travelling expenses. 

This lively incident, however, could hardly be mentioned 

* A coin, with the head of the sovereign stamped upon it, generally 
worth 4| good groschen. — Trans. 



78 TP.UTPI AND POETKY; PKOM MY OWN LIFE. 

m our circle ; for though the poor wretch, with all his 
domestic misery, in his sandy home beyond the Main, could 
still be counted extremely happy; the man of wealth and 
dignity on this side of the river, for whom we were most 
interested, had missed the priceless rehef so confidently 
expected. 

It was sickening, therefore, to om^ good Jung to receive the 
thousand guilders, which, being stipulated in any case, were 
honorably paid by the high-minded sufferer. This ready 
money was destined to liquidate, on his return, a portion of 
the debts, which added their burden to other sad and unhappy 
circumstances. 

And so he went off inconsolable, for he could not help 
thinking of his meeting with his care-worn wife, the changed 
manner of her parents, who, as sureties for so many debts of 
this too confiding man, might, however well-wishing, consider 
they had made a great mistake in the choice of a partner for 
their daughter. In this and that house, from this and that 
window, he could already see the scornful and contemptuous 
looks of those who even when he was prospering, had wished 
him no good; while the thought of a practice interrupted 
by his absence, and likely to be materially damaged by his 
failure, troubled him extremely. 

And so Vv'-e took om- leave of him, not without all hope on 
om- parts ; for his strong nature, sustained by faith in super- 
natural aid, could not but inspire his friends with a quiet and 
moderate confidence. 



SEVENTEENTH BOOK. 



In resuming the nistory of my relation to Lili^ I have to 
mention the many very pleasant hours I spent in her society, 
partly in the presence of her mother, partly alone with her. 
On the strength of my writings, people gave me credit for 
laiowledge of the human heart, as it was then called, and 
in this view our conversations were morally interesting in 
every way. 

But how could we talk of such inward matters without 
coming to mutual disclosures? It was not long before, in 
a quiet hour, Lili told me the history of her youth. She had 
groviTi up in the enjoyment of all the advantages of society 
and worldly comforts. She described to me her brothers, her 
relations, and all her nearest connexions; only her mother 
was kept in a respectful obscurity. 

Little weaknesses, too, were thought of; and among them 
she could not deny, that she had often remarked in herself a 
certain gift of attracting others, with which, at the same 
time, was united a certain peculiarity of letting them go 
again. By prattling on we thus came at last to the important 
jioint, that she had exercised this gift upon me too, but had 
been punished for it, since she had been attracted by me also. 

These confessions flowed forth from so pure and childlike a 
nature, that by them she made me entirely her own. 

We were now necessary to each other, we had grown 
into the habit of seeing each other; but how many a day, 
how many an evening till far into the night, should I have 
had to deny myself her company, if I had not reconciled 
myself to seeing her in her own circles ! This was a source 
of manifold pain to me. 

My relation to her was that of a character to a character — 
I looked upon her as, to a beautiful, amiable, highly accom- 
plished daughter ; it v/as like my earlier attachments, but 
was of a still higher Idnd. Of outward circumstances, how- 
ever, of the interchange of social relations, I had never thought. 
An irresistible longing reigned in me ; I could not be without 
her, nor she without me; but from the circle which surrouudeu 



80 TKUTPI AND POETEY; THOM MY OWN LIPB. 

her, and through the interference of its individual memberg, 
how many days were spoiled, how many hours wasted. 

Tlie history of pleasure parties which ended in dis-pleasure; 
a retarding brother, whom I was to accompany, who would 
however always be stopping to do some business or other 
wnich perhaps somewhat maliciously he was in no hurry to 
finish, and would thereby spoil the whole well- concerted plan 
for a meeting, and ever so much more of accident and disap- 
pointment, of impatience and privation, — all these little 
troubles, which, circumstantially set forth in a romance, 
would certainly find sympathizing readers, I must here omit. 
However, to bring this merely contemplative account nearer 
to a living experience to a youthful sympathy, I may insert 
some songs, which are indeed well known but are perhaps 
especially impressive in this place. 

Heart, my heart, O, what hath changed thee? 

What doth weigh on thee so sore ? 
What hath from myself estranged thee. 

That I scarcely know thee more ? 
Gone is all which once seemed dearest, 
Gone the care which once was nearest 

Gone thy toils and tranquil bliss, 

Ah ! how couldst thou come to this ? 

Does that bloom so fresh and youth:5ilj-— 

That divine and lovely form, — 
That sweet look, so good and truthful. 

Bind thee with resistless charm ? 
If I swear no more to see her, 
If I man myself, and flee her, 

Soon I find my efibrts vain 

Forc'd to seek her once again. 

She with magic thread has bound me, 

That defies my strength or skill, 
She has drawn a circle round me. 

Holds me fast against my will. 
Cruel maid, her charms enslave me, 
I must live as she would have me, 

Ah ! how great the change to me ! 

Love I when wilt thou set mo free! 



LILl'S SOIREES. 81 

With resistless power why dost thou press lue 

Into scenes so bright? 
Had I not — good youth — so much to bless iiio 

In the lonely night ? 

In my little chamber close I found me, 

in the moon's cold beams ; 
And their quivering light fell softly round me, 

"While I lay in dreams. 

And by hours of pm-e, unmingled pleasure., 

AU my dreams were blest, 
While I felt her image, as a treasure, 

Deep within my breast. 

Is it I, she at the table places, 

'Mid so many lights? 
Yes, to meet intolerable faces, 

She her slave invites. 

Ah! the Spring's fresh fields no longer cheer me 

Flowers no sweetness bring ; 
Augel, vfhere thou art, all sweets are near me, — 

Love, Nature, and Spring. 

Whoever reads these songs attentively to himself or better 
still, sings them with feeling, wiU certainly feel a breath of 
the fulness of those happy hours stealing over him. 

But we will not take leave of that greater, and more bril- 
liant society, without adding some further remarks, especially 
to explain the close of the second poem. 

She, whom I was only accustomed to see in a simple dress 
which was seldom changed, now stood before me on such 
occasions in all the splendor of elegant fashion, and still she 
was the same. Her usual grace and kindliness of manner 
remained, only I should say her gift of attracting shone more 
conspicuous ; — perhaps, because brought into contact with 
several persons, she seemed called upon to express herself 
with more animation, and to exhibit herself on more sides, as 
various characters approached her. At any rate, I could 
230t deny, on the one hand, that these strangers were annoy- 
ing to me, while on the other I would not for a great deal 
have deprived myself of the pleasure of witnessing her talents 
Vol. II. a 



82 TKUTH AND POETRY; FEOM MY OWN LIFE. 

for society, and of seeing that she was made for a wider anl 
more general sphere. 

Though covered with ornaments it was stiU the same 
bosom that had opened to me its inmost secrets, and into 
which I could look as clearly as into my own ; they were still 
the same lips that had so lately described to me the state of 
things amidst which she had grown up, and had spent her 
early years. Every look that we interchanged, every accom- 
panying smile, bespoke a noble feeling of mutual intelligence, 
and I was myself astonished, here in the crowd, at the secret 
innocent understanding which existed between us in the most 
human, the most natural way. 

But with returning spring, the pleasant freedom of the 
country was to knit still closer these relations. Offenbach on 
the Main showed even then the considerable beginnings of a 
city, which promised to form itself in time. Beautiful, and for 
the times, splendid buildings, were already erected. Of these 
Uncle Bernard, (to call him by his familiar title) inhabited the 
largest; extensive factories were adjoining; D'Orville, a 
lively young man of amiable qualities, lived opposite. Con- 
tiguous gardens and terraces, reaching down to the Main, and 
affording a free egress in every direction into the lovely sur- 
rounding scenery, put both visitors and residents in excellent 
humor. The lover could not find a more desirable spot for 
indulging his feelings. 

I lived at the house of John Andre, and since I am here 
forced to mention this man, who afterwards made himself 
well enough known, I must indulge in a short digression, in 
order to give some idea of the state of the Opera at that 
time. 

In Frankfort, Marchand was director of the theatre, and 
exerted himself in his own person to do all that was possible. 
In his best years he had been a fine, large well-made man, the 
easy and gentle qualities appeared to predominate in his cha- 
racter; his presence on the stage, therefore, was agreeable 
enough. He had perhaps as much voice as w^as required for 
the execution of any of the musical w^orks of that day ; accor- 
dingly he endeavoured to adapt to oiu' stage the large and 
cmaller French operas. 

The part of the father in Gretry's opera of " Beauty au 1 
the Beast," particularly suited him and his acting was quits 



ANDRE— EWALD— burger's LEONORE. 83 

expressive in the scene of the Vision which was contrived at 
the back of the stage. 

This opera, successful in its way, approached, however the 
lofty style, and was calculated to excite the tenderest feelings. 
On the other hand a Demon of Realism had got possession of 
the opera-house; operas founded upon different crafts and 
classes were brought out. The Huntsmen^ the Coujoers, and I 
Imow not what else, were produced; Andre chose the Potter. 
He had written the words himself, and upon that part of the 
text which belonged to him, had lavished his whole musical 
talent. 

I was lodging with him, and will only say so much as occa- 
sion demands of this ever ready poet and coniposer. 

He was a man of an innate lively talent and was settled at 
Ofifenbach, where he properly carried on a mechanical busines 
and manufacture ; he floated between the chapel-master (or 
Precentor) and the dilettante. In the hope of meriting the 
former title, he toiled very earnestly to gain a thorough 
knowledge of the science of music ; in the latter character he 
was inclined to repeat his own compositions without end. 

Among the persons who at this time were most active in 
filling and enlivening our circle, the pastor Ewald must be 
first named. In society an intellectual agreeable companion, 
he stni carried on in private quietly and diligently the 
studies of his profession, and in fact afterwards honourably 
distinguished himself in the province of theology. Ewald in 
short was an indispensable member of our circle, being quick 
alike of comprehension and reply. 

Lili's pianoforte-playing completely fettered our good 
Andre to our society ; what with instructing, conducting, and 
executing, there were few hours of the day or night in 
which he was not either in the family circle or at our social 
parties. 

Biirger's "Leonore," then but just published, and received 
mth enthusiasm by the Germans, had been set to music by 
by him; this piece he was always forward to execute however 
often it might be encored. 

I too, who was in the habit of repeating pieces of poetry 
with animation, was always ready to recite it. Our friends 
at this time did not get weary of the constant repetition of 
the same thing. When the company had their choice 

G 2 



84 TEXJTii AND poetey; peom my owi^" life, 

wkicli of us tliey would rather hear, the decision was ofte" ^'v 
uiy favour. 

All this (however it might be) served to prolong the inter- 
coiu'se of the lovers. They knew no bounds, and between them 
both they easily managed to keep the good John Andre con- 
tinually in motion, that by repetitions he might make his 
music last till midnight. The two lovers thus secured for 
themselves, a precious and indispensable opportunity. 

If we walked out early in the morning, we found ourselves 
in the freshest air, but not precisely in the country. Impos- 
ing buildings, which at that time would have done honor to a 
€ity ; gardens, spreading before us and easily overlooked, with 
their smooth flower and ornamental beds ; a clear prospect 
commanding the opposite banks of the river, over whose 
surface even at an early hour might be seen floating a busy 
line of rafts or nimble market-skifis and boats— these toge- 
ther formed a gently gliding, living world, in harmony with 
love's tender feelings. Even the lonely rippling of the waves 
and rustling of the reeds in a softly flowing stream was highly 
refreshing, and never failed to throw a decidedly tranquilliz- 
ing spell over those who approached the spot. A clear sky 
of the finest season of the year overarched the whole, and 
most pleasant was it to renew morning after morning her dear 
society, in the midst of such scenes ! 

Should such a mode of life seem too irregular, too trivial to 
the earnest reader, let him consider that between what L iiere 
brought closely together for the sake of a convenient order, 
there intervened whole days and weeks of renunciation, other 
engagements and occupations, and indeed an insupportable 
tedium. 

Men and women were busily engaged in their spheres Ox 
duty. I, too, out of regard for the present and the future, 
delayed not to attend to all my obligations ; and I found time 
enough to finish that to which my talent and my passion 
irresistibly impelled me. 

The earliest hours of the morning I devoted to poetry ; the 
middle of the day was assigned to worldly business, which 
was handled in a manner quite peculiar. My father, a 
thorough and indeed finished jurist, managed himself such 
bushiess as arose from the care of his own property, and a 
saimexion with highly valu:ed friends; fov although his 



MY WORLDLY ArFAIKS. 85 

character as Imperial Councillor did not allow him to practise, 
he was at hand as legal adviser to many a friend, while the 
papers he had prepared were signed by a regular advocate, 
who received a consideration for everj- such signature. 

This activity of his had now become more lively since 
my return, and I could easily remark, that he prized my 
talent higher than my practice, and on that account did what 
he could to leave me time for my poetical studies and produc- 
tions. Soimd and thoroughly apt, but slow of conception 
and execution, he studied the papers as private Refer endarius^ 
and when we came together, he would state the case, and left 
me to work it out, in which I shewed so much readiness, that 
he felt a father's purest joy, and once could not refrain from 
declaring, " that, if I were not of his own blood, he should 
envy me." 

To lighten our work we had engaged a scribe whose cha- 
racter and individuality, well worked out, would have helped 
to adorn a romance. After his school-years, which had been 
profitably spent, and in which he had become fully master of 
Latin, and acquired some other useful branches of knowledge, 
a dissipated academic life had brought trouble on the remain- 
der of his days. He dragged on a wretched existence for a 
time in sickness and in poverty, till at last he contrived to 
improve his circumstances by the aid of a fine hand- writing 
and a readiness at accounts. Employed by some advocates, 
he gradually acquired an accurate knowledge of the formali- 
ties of legal business, and by his faithftdness and punctuality 
m.ade every one he served his patron. He had been fre- 
quently employed b}^ our family, and was always at hand in 
matters of law and account. 

He also was an useful assistant in our continually increas- 
ing business, which consisted not only of law matters, but 
also of various sorts of commissions, orders and transit agen- 
cies. In the council-house he knew all the passages and 
windings ; in his way, he was in tolerable favor at both bur- 
gomasters' audiences; and since, from his first entrance into 
office, and even during the times of his equivocal behaviour, he 
had been well acquainted with many of the new senators, 
some of whom had quickly risen to the dignity of Schoffen, he 
had acquired a certain confidence, which might be called a 
sort of influence. All this he knew how to turn to the 



86 THUTH AND POETEY ; FRO^l MY OWN LIFE. 

advantage of his jD^^i'ons, and since the state of his health 
forced him to limit his application to writing, he was always 
found ready to execute every commission or order with care. 

His presence was not disagreeable ; he was slender in per- 
son and of regular features; his manner was unobtrusive, 
though a certain expression betrayed his conviction that he 
knew all what was necessary to be done ; moreover, he was 
cheerful and dexterous in clearing av*^ay difficulties. He 
must have been full forty, and (to say the same thing over 
again), I regret that I have never introduced him as the main- 
spring in the machinery of some novel. 

Hoping that my more serious readers are now someM^hat 
satisfied by what I have just related, I will venture to turn 
again to that bright point of tii'ie, when love and friendship 
shone in their fairest light. 

It was in the nature of such social circles that all birth- 
days should be carefully celebrated, with every variety of 
rejoicing; it was in honor of the birth-day of the pastor 
Ewald, that the following song vras written : — 

When met in glad communion, 

When warm'd by love and wine, 
To sing this song in union. 

Our voices we'll combine. 
Through God, who first united, 

Together we remain : 
The flame which once He lighted, 

He now revives again. 

Since this song has been j)reserved imtil this day, and 
there is scarcely a merry party at which it is not joyfully 
revived, we commend it also to all that shall come after us, 
and to all who sing it or recite it we wish the same delight 
and inward satisfaction which we then had, when we had no 
thought of any wider world, but felt ourselves a world to 
ourselves in that narrow circle. 

It will, of course, be expected that Lili's birth-day, which, 
on the 23rd June, 1775, returned for the seventeenth time, 
was to be celebrated with peculiar honours. She had pro- 
mised to come to Offenbach at noon ; and I must observe that 
our friends, with a happy unanimity, had laid aside all 
customary compliments at this festival, and had prepared 



PLOT OP "she comes NOT." 87 

for her reception and entertainment nothing but such heartfelt 
tokens, as were worthy of her. 

Busied with such pleasant duties, I saw the sun go down, 
announcing a bright day to follow, and promising its glad 
beaming presence at our feast, when Lili's brother, George, 
who knew not how to dissemble, came somewhat rudely into 
the chamber, and, without sparing our feelings, gave us to 
understand that to-morrow's intended festival was put off; 
he himself could not tell how, or why, but his sister had bid 
him say that it would be wholly impossible for her to come 
to Offenbach at noon that day, and take part in the intended 
festival; she had no hope of arriving before evening. She 
knew and felt most sensibly how vexatious and disagreeable 
it must be to me and all her friends, but she begged me very 
earnestly to invent some expedient which might soften and 
perhaps do away the unpleasant effects of this news, which 
she left it to me to announce. If I could, she would give me 
her warmest thanks. 

I was silent for a moment, but I quickly recovered myself, 
and, as if by heavenly inspiration, saw what was to be done. 
"Make haste, George!" I cried; "tell her to make herself 
easy, and do her best to come towards evening; I promise 
that this very disappointment shall be turned into a cause of 
rejoicing!" The boy was curioUs, and wanted to know how? 
I refused to gratify his curiosity, notwithstanding that he 
called to his aid all the arts and sUl the influence which a 
brother of our beloved can presume to exercise. 

No sooner had he gone, than I walked up and down in my 
chamber with a singular self-satisfaction; and, with the glad, 
free feeling that here Avas a brilliant opportunity of proving 
myself her devoted servant, I stitched together several sheets 
of paper with beautiful silk, as suited alone such an occasional 
poem, and hastened to write down the title : 

" She Comes Not! 

"A Mournful Family Piece, which, by the sore visitation of 
Divine Providence, Avill be represented in the most natural 
manner on the 23rd of Jiuie, 1775, at Offenbach-on-the- 
Maine. The action lasts from morning until evening." 

I have not by me either the original or a copy of this jezi 



38 TKUTH AKD POETBY; PKOM my own EIFE. 

cV esprit; I have often inquired after one, but have never 
been able to get a trace of it; I must therefore compose r; 
anew, a thing which, in the general way, is not difficult. 

The scene is at D'Orville's house and garden in Offenbach; 
the action opens with the domestics, of whom each one plays 
his special part, and evident preparations for a festival are 
being made. The children, drawn to the life, run in and out 
among them ; the master appears and the mistress, actively 
discharging her appropriate functions ; then, in the midst of 
the hurry and bustle of active preparation comes in neigh- 
bour Hans Andre, the indefatigable composer ; he seats him- 
self at the piano, and calls them all together to hear him try 
his new song, which he has just finished for the festival. He 
gathers round him the whole house, but all soon disperse 
again to attend to pressing duties; one is called away by 
another, this person wants the help of that; at last, the 
arrival of the gardener draws attention to the preparations in 
the grounds and on the water; wreaths, baimers with orna- 
mental inscriptions, in short, nothing is forgotten. 

"While they are all assembled around the most attractive 
objects, in steps a messenger, who, as a sort of humorous go- 
between, was also entitled to play his part, and who although 
he has had plenty of drink-money, could still pretty shrewdly 
guess what was the state of the case. He sets a high value on 
his packet, demands a glass of wine and a wheaten roll, and 
after some roguish hesitation hands over his despatches. The 
master of the house lets his arms drop, the papers fall to the 
floor, he calls out : "Let me go to the table! let me go to the 
bureau that I may brushy 

The spirited intercourse of vivacious persons is chiefly 
distinguished by a certain symbolical style of speech and 
gesture. A sort of conventional idiom arises, which, while it 
makes the initiated very happy, is unobserved by the stranger, 
or, if observed, is disagreeable. 

Among Lili's most pleasing particu.larities was the one 
which is here expressed by the word hrushmg, and which 
manifested itself whenever anything disagreeable was said or 
told, especially when she sat at table, or was near any flat 
surface. 

It had its origin in a most fascinating but odd exj)edient, 
which shs once had recourse to when a stranger, sitting near 



PLOT op' "she comes jS'OT." 89 

her at table, uttered sonietliing unseemly. Without alterinir 
her mild countenance, slie brushed with her right hand, mosr 
prettily, across the table-cloth, and deliberately pushed off 
on to the floor everything she reached with this gentle motion. 
I loiow not what did not fall: — knives, forks, bread, salt- 
cellar, and also something belonging to her neighbour; 'every 
one was startled; the servants ran up, and no one knew what 
it all meant, except the observing ones, who were delighted 
that she had rebuked and checked an impropriety in so pretty 
a manner. 

Here now was a symbol found to express the repulsion of 
anything disagreeable, which still is frequently made use of 
in clever, hearty, estimable, well-meaning, and not thoroughly 
polished society. We all adopted the motion of the right 
hand as a sign of reprobation; the actual brushing away of 
objects was a thing w^hich afterwards she herself indulged in 
only moderately and with good taste. 

When, therefore, the poet gives to the master of the house, 
as a piece of dumb shew, this desu-e for brushing, (a habit 
which had become with us a second nature,) the meaning and 
effect of the action and its tendency, are at once apparent ; 
for while he threatens to sweep everything from all flat sur- 
faces, everybody tries to hinder him, and to pacify him, till 
finally he thi'ows himself exhausted on a seat. 

" What has happened ? " all exclaim. "Is she sick? Is 
any one dead?" "Read! read!" cries D'Orville, "there it 
lies on the ground." The despatch is picked up; they read 
it, and exclaim : /She comes not! 

The great terror had prepared them for a greater; — but 
she was well — nothing had happened to her ! no one of the 
family was hurt ; hope pointed, still to the evening. 

Andre, who in the meanwhile had kept on with his music, 
came running up at last, consoling and seeking consolation. 
Pastor Ewald and his wife likewise came in quite character- 
istically, disappointed and yet reasonable, sorry for the dis- 
appointment and yet quietly accepting all for the best. Every- 
thing now is at sixes and sevens, until the calm and exemplary 
uncle Bernard finally approaches, expecting a good breakfast 
and a comfortable dinner ; and he is the only one who sees the 
matter from the right point of view. He, by reasonable 
speeches, sets all to rights, just as in the Greek tragedy a god 



90 TllUTH AND rOETKY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

manfAges with a few words to clear up tlie perplexities of tho 
greatest heroes. 

Dashed off " currente calamo," it was yet late at night 
before I had finished it and given it to a messenger with 
instructions to deliver it the next morning in Offenba-ch, pre- 
cisely at ten o'clock. 

Next day when I awoke, it was one of the brightest 
mornings possible, and, I set off just in time to arrive at 
Offenbach, as I purposed, precisely at noon. 

I was received with the strangest charivari of salutations ; 
the interrupted feast was scarcely mentioned; they scolded 
and rated -me, because I had taken them off so well. The 
domestics were contented with being introduced on the same 
stage with their superiors; only the children, those most 
decided and indomitable realists, obstinately insisted that 
they had not talked so and so, that everything in fact went 
quite differently from the way in which it there stood written. 
1 appeased them by some foretastes of the supper-table, and 
they loved me as much as ever. A cheerful dinner-party, 
with some though not all of our intended festivities, put us in 
the mood of receiving Lili " with less splendor, but perhaps the 
more affectionately. She came, and was welcomed by cheer- 
ful, nay, merry faces, surprised to find that her staying away 
had not marred all our cheerfulness. They told her every- 
thing, they laid the whole thing before her, and she, in her 
dear sweet way, thanked me as only she could thank. 

It required no remarkable acuteness to perceive, that her 
absence from the festival in her honor was not accidental, but 
had been caused by gossiping about the intimacy between us. 
However, this had not the slightest influence either on our 
sentiments or our behavior. 

At this season of the year there never failed to be a varied 
throng of visitors from the city. Frequently I did not join, 
the company until late in the evening, when T fo md her 
apparently sympathizing; and since I commonly appeared 
only for a few hours, I was glad of an opportunity to be 
useful to her in any way, by attending to or undertaking 
some commission, whether trifling or not, in her behalf. 
And indeed this service is the most delightful which a man 
can enter upon, as the old romances of chivalry contrive how 
to intimate in their obscure, but powerful manner. That she 



\ 



INTIMACY WITH LILI. 91 

^uled over me, -was not to be concealed, and this pride she 
might well allow herself; for in this contest the victor and 
the vanquished both triumph, and enjoy an equal glory. 

This my repeated, though often brief cooperation, was 
always so much the more effective. John Andre had always 
store of music ; I contributed new pieces either by others or 
myself; so that poetical and musical blossoms showered down 
upon us. It was altogether a brilliant time; a certain excite- 
ment reigned in the company, and there were no insipid 
moments. Without further question it seemed to be com- 
municated to all the rest. For where inclination and passion 
come out in their own bold nature, they encourage timid 
souls, who cannot comprehend why they should suppress their 
equally valid rights. Hence relations, w^hich hitherto were 
more or less concealed, were now seen to intertwine them- 
selves without reserve ; while others, which did not confess 
themselves so openly, still glided on agreeably in the shade. 

If, because of my multifarious avocations, I could not pass 
vviiole days out of doors with her, yet the clear evenings gave 
us opportunity for prolonged meetings in the open air. 
Loving souls will be pleased to read the following event. 

Ours was a condition of which it stands -svritten : " I sleep, 
but my heart wakes; " the bright and the dark hours were 
alike; the light of the day could not outshine the light of 
love, and the night was made as the brightest day by the 
radiance of passion. 

One clear starlight evening we had been walliing about iu 
the open country till it was quite late; and after I had seen 
her and her friends home to their several doors, and finally 
had taken leave of her, I felt so little inclined to sleep that I 
did not hesitate to set off on another ramble. I took the 
highroad to Frankfort, giving myself up to my thoughts and 
hopes ; here I seated myself on a bench, in the purest still- 
ness of night, imder the gleaming starry heavens, that I might 
belong only to myself and her. 

My attention . was attracted by a sound quite near me, 
which I could not explain; it was not a rattling, nor a. 
rustling noise, and on closer observation I discovered that it 
was under the ground, and caused by the working of some 
little animal. It might be a hedge -hog, or a weasel, or what- 
e\ev creature labors in that way at such hom'S. 



d2 TKTJTH AND POETHY; FEOM MY OTVN LIFE. 

Having set off again towards the city and got near to the 
Roderberg, I recognised, by their chalk-white gleam, the 
steps which lead up to the vineyards. I ascended them, sat 
down, and fell asleep. 

"When I awoke, the twilight had akeady dawned, and I 
•found myself opposite the high wall, which in earlier times 
had been erected to defend the heights on this side. Saxen- 
hausen lay before me, light mists marked out the course of 
the river ; it was cool, and to me most welcome. 

There I waited till the sun, rising gradually behind me, 
lighted up the opposite landscape. It was the spot where I 
was again to see my beloved, and I returned slowly back to 
the paradise which surrounded her yet sleeping. 

On account of my increasing circle of business, which, 
from love to her, I was anxious to extend and to establish, 
my visits to Offenbach became more rare, and hence arose a 
somcM^hat painful predicament; so that it might well be 
remarked, that, for the sake of the future, one postpones and 
loses the present. 

As my prospects were now gradually improving, I took 
them to be more promising than they really were, and I 
thought the more about coming to a speedy explanation, since 
go public an intimacy could not go on much longer without 
misconstruction. And, as is usual in such cases, we did not 
expressly say it to one another; but the feeling of being 
mutually pleased in every way, the full conviction that a 
separation was impossible, the confidence reposed in one 
another, — all this produced such a seriousness, that I, who 
liad firmly resolved never again to get involved in any 
troublesome connexion of the kind, and who found myself, 
nevertheless, entangled in this, without the certainty of a 
favorable result, was actually beset with a heaviness of mind, 
to get rid of which I plunged more and more in indifferent 
worldly affairs, from which apart from my beloved I had no 
care to derive either profit or pleasure. 

In this strange situation, the like of which manj^ no doubt, 
have with pain experienced, there came to our aid a female 
friend of the family, who saw through characters and situa- 
tions very clearly. She was called Mademoiselle Delf ; she 
presided with her elder sister over a little business in Heidel- 
bei-g, and on several occasions had received many favors from 



A BETROTHAL. 93^ 

the greater Frankfort conmiission-liouse. She had known 
and loved Lili from her youth; she was quitd a peculiar 
person, of an earnest, masculine look, and with an even, firm 
hasty step. She had had peculiar reason to adapt herself to 
the world, and hence she understood it, in a certain sense at 
iCast. She could not be called intriguing; she was accus- 
tomed to consider distant contingencies, and to carry out her 
plans in silence : but then she had the gift of seeing an oppor- 
tunity, and if she found people wavering betwixt doubt and 
resolution, at the moment when everything depended upon 
decision, she skilfully contrived to infuse into their minds 
such a force of character, that she seldom failed to accomplish 
her purpose. Properly speaking she had no selfish ends ; to 
have done anything, to have completed anything, especially 
to have brought about a marriage, was reward enough for 
her. She had long since seen through our position, and, in 
repeated visits, had carefully observed the state of afiairs, sO' 
that she had finally convinced herself that the attachment 
must be favored ; that our plans, honestly but not very skil- 
fully taken in hand and prosecuted, must be promoted, and 
that this little romance be brought to a close as speedily as 
possible. 

For many years she had enjoyed the confidence of Lili's 
mother. Introduced by me to my parents, she had managed 
to make herself agreeable to them; for her rough sort of 
manner is seldom oflfensive in an imperial city, and backed by 
cleverness and tact, is even welcome. She knew very well 
our wishes and our hopes ; her love of meddling made her 
see in all this a call upon her good offices ; in short she had 
a conversation with our parents. How she commenced it.> 
how she put aside the difficulties which must have stood in 
her way, I know not ; but she came to us one evening and 
bro ght the consent. "Take each other by the hand! " cried 
she, in her pathetic yet commanding manner. I stood 
opposite to Lili and offered her my hand; she, not indeed 
hesitatingly, but still slowly, placed hers in it. After a long^ 
and deep breath we fell with lively emotion into each other's 
arms. 

It v>^as a strange degree of the overruling Providence, that 
m the course of my singular history, I should also have 
experienced the feelings of one who is betrothed. 



94 TRUTH AND POETRY. FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

I may venture to assert, that for a truly moral man it is the 
pleasantest of all recollections. It is delightful to recall those 
feelings, which are with difficulty expressed and are hardly 
explained. For him the state of things is all at once changed ; 
the sharpest oppositions are removed, the most inveterate dif- 
ferences are adjusted ; prompting nature, ever warning reason, 
the tyrannizing impulses, and the sober law, which before kept 
up a perpetual strife within us, all are now reconciled in 
friendly unity, and at the festival, so universally celebrated 
with solemn rites, that which was forbidden is commanded, and 
that which was penal is raised to an inviolable duty. 

The reader will learn with moral approval that from this 
time forward a certain change took place in me. If my 
beloved had hitherto been looked upon as beautiful, graceful, 
and attractive, now she appeared to me a being of superior 
worth and excellence. She was as it were a double person : 
her grace and loveliness belonged to me,— that I felt as for- 
merly; but the dignity of her character, her self-reliance, her 
confidence in all persons remained her OAvn. I beheld it, I 
looked through it, I was delighted with it as with a capital 
of which I should enjoy the interest as long as I lived. 

There is depth and significance in the old remark : on the 
summit of fortune one abides not long. The consent of the 
parties on both sides, so gained in such a peculiar manner by 
Demoiselle Delf, M^as now ratified silently and without further 
formality. But as soon as we believe the matter to be all 
settled — as soon as the ideal, as we may well call it, of a 
betrothal is over, and it begins to pass into the actual and to 
enter soberly into facts, then too often comes a crisis. The 
outward world is utterly unmerciful, and it has reason, for it 
must maintain its authority at all costs; the confidence of 
passion is very great, and we see it too often wrecked upon 
the rocks of opposing realities. A young married couple who 
enter upon life, unprovided with sufficient means, can pro- 
mise themselves no honey-moon, especially in these latter 
times; the world immediately presses upon them with incom- 
patible demands, which, if not satisfied, make the young 
couple appear ridiculous. 

Of the insufficiency of the means which for the attainment 
of my end, I had anxiously scraped together, I could not 
before be aware, because they had held out up to a certain 



THE KEALITIES OF LIFE. 96 

point; but now the end was di'awing nearer, I saw that 
matters were not quite what they ought to be. 

The fallacy, which passion finds so convenient, Avas now 
exposed in all its inconsistency. My house, my domestic 
circumstances, had to be considered in all their details, with 
some soberness. The consciousness, that his house would one 
day contain a daughter-in-law, lay indeed at the bottom of my 
father's design; but then what sort of a lady did he con- 
template ? 

At the end of our third part, the reader made the ac- 
quaintance of the gentle, dear, intelligent, beautiful, and 
talented maiden, so always like herself, so afiectionate, and 
vet so free from passion ; she was a fitting key-stone to the 
arch already built and curved. But here, upon calm unbiassed 
consideration, it coidd not be denied that, in order to establish 
the newly acquired treasure in such a function, a new arch 
would have to be built! 

However this had not yet become clear to me, and still less 
was it so to her mind. But now when I tried to fancy myself 
bringing her to my home, she did not seem somehow to suit 
it exactly. It appeared to me something like what I had 
myself experienced, when I first joined her social circle: in 
order to give no ofience to the fashionable people I met there, 
I found It necessary to make a great change in my style of 
dress. But this could not be so easily done with the domestic 
arrangement of a stately burgher's house, which, rebuilt iu 
the olden style, had with its antique ornaments, given an old- 
fashioned character to the habits of its inmates. 

Moreover, even after our parents' consent had been gained, 
it had not been possible to establish friendly relations or 
intercourse between our respective families. Different reli- 
gious opinions produced difierent manners ; and if the amiable 
girl had wished to continue in any way her former mode of 
life, it would have found neither opportunity nor place in our 
moderate-sized house. 

If I had never thought of all this imtil now, it was because 
I had been quieted by the opening of fine prospects from with- 
out, and the hope of getting some valuable appointment. An 
active sj)irit gets a footing everywhere: capacities, talents 
create confidence ; every one thinks that a change of manage- 
ment is all that is needed. The earnestness of youth finds 



36 TRUTH AXD poetky; fe.O]m my own life. 

favour, genius is trusted for, everything, though its power is 
only of a certain kind. 

The intellectual and literary domain of Germany was at 
that time regarded as but newly broken ground. Among the 
business-people there were prudent men, who desired skilful 
cultivators and prudent managers for the fields about to be 
turned up. Even the respectable and well established Free- 
Mason's lodge, wdth the most distinguished members of which 
I had become acquainted through my intimacy with Lilli, con- 
trived in a suitable manner to get me introduced to them; 
but I, from a feeling of independence, w4iich afterwards 
appeared to me madness, declined all closer connection with 
them, not perceiving that these men, though already bound 
together in a higher sense, would yet do mu.ch to further my 
ow^n ends, so nearly related to theirs. 

I return to more personal matters. 

In su-ch cities as Frankfort, men often hold several situa- 
tions together, such as residentships, and agencies, the number 
of which may by diligence be indefinitely increased. Something 
of this sort now occurred to me, and at first sight it seemed 
both advantageous and honorable. It was assumed that I 
should suit the place; and it w^ould, under the conditions, 
certainly have succeeded, if it could have commanded the 
co-operation of the Chancery triad already described. Wfy 
thus suppress our doubts; we dwell only on what is favorable, 
by powerful activity we overcome all wavering ; whence there 
results a something untrue in our position, without the force 
of passion being in the least subdued. 



In times of peace there is no more interesting reading for 
the multitude than the public papers, which furnish early 
information of the latest doings in the w^orid. The quiet opUr- 
lent citizen exercises thus in an innocent way a party spirit, 
which in our finite nature we neither can nor should get rid of. 
Every comfortable person thus gets up a factitious interest, 
like that which is often felt in a bet, experiences an unreal 
gain or loss, and as in the theatre, feels a very lively, though 
imaginary sympathy in the good or evil fortune of others. 
This sympathy seems often arbitrary, but it rests on moral 
grounds. For now we give to praiseworthy designs the ap- 
plause they deser\'^e ; and now again, carried away by briUiaut 



JLMERICAN SETOLUTION-. 97 

cucLjesses, we tiuii to tliose whose plans we should otherudse 
have blamed. For all this there was abundant material in. 
those times. 

Frederick the Second, resting on his victories, seemed to 
hold in his hand the fate of Europe and the vforld; Catherine, 
a great woman, who had proved herself every way worthy of 
a throne, afforded ample sphere of action to able and highly 
gifted men, in extending the dominion of their Empress ; and 
as this was done at the expense of the Turks, whom we are in 
the habit of richly repaying for the contempt with which they 
look down upon us, it seemed as if it was no sacrifice of human 
life, when these infidels were slain by thousands. The burn- 
ing of the fleet in the harbor of Tschesme, caused a universal 
jubilee throughout the civilized world, and every one shared 
the exultation of a victory, when, in order to preserve a faith- 
ful pictm-e of that great event, a ship of war was actually 
blo^vn up on the roads of Leghorn, before the studio of an 
artist- Not long after this, a young northern Idng, to esta- 
blish his own authority, seized the reins of government, out o£ 
the hands of an oligarchy. The aristocrats whom he overthrew 
were not lamented, for aristocracy finds no favor with the 
public, since it is in its natm-e to work in silence, and it is the 
more secure the less talk it creates about itself; and in this 
case the people thought all the better of the young king, since 
in order to balance the enmity of the higher ranks, he was 
obliged to favor the lower, and to conciliate their good 

^vm. 

The lively interest of the world was still more, excited 
when a whole people prepared to efiect their independence. 
Abready had it witnessed a welcome spectacle of the same 
efibrt on a small scale : Corsica had long been the point to 
to which all eyes were directed; Paoli, when despairing of 
ever being able to carry out his patriotic designs, he passed 
through Germany to England, attracted and won all hearts ; 
he was a fine man, slender, fair, full of grace and friendli- 
ness. I saw him in the house of Bethmann, where he stopped 
'1 short time, and received with cheerful cordiality the cm-ious 
visitors who thronged to see him. But now similar events 
were to be repeated in a remote quarter of the globe; we 
vrished the Americans all success, and the names of Franklin 
and Washington began to shine and sparkle in the firmament 
Vol. II. k 



98 TRUTH AND poetry; from my own life. 

of politics and war. Much had been accomplished to improve 
the condition of humanity, and now, when in France, a new 
and benevolent sovereign evinced the best intentions of devot- 
ing himself to the removal of so many abuses and to the 
noblest ends, — of introducing a regular and efficient system of 
political economy, — of dispensing with aU arbitrary power and 
of ruling alone by law and justice; the brightest hopes spread 
over the world, and confident youth promised itself and to all 
mankind a bright and noble future. 

In all these events, however, I only took part so far as they 
interested society in general; I myself and my immediate 
circle did not meddle with the news of the day ; our affair was 
to study men; men in general we allowed to have their way. 

The quiet position of the German Fatherland, to which also 
my native city had now conformed for upwards of a hundred 
years, had been fully preserved in spite of many wars and con- 
vulsions. A highly varied gradation of ranks, which, instead 
of holding the several classes apart, seemed to bind them the 
more closely together, had promoted the interest of aU, from 
the highest to the lowest— from the Emperor to the Jew. If 
the sovereign princes stood in a subordinate relation to the 
Emperor, still their electoral rights and immunities thereby 
acquired and maintained, were a full compensation. More- 
over, the highest nobility belonged exclusively to the agnates 
of the royal houses, so that in the enjoyment of their distin- 
guished privileges, they could look upon themselves as equal 
with the highest and even superior to them in some sense, 
since, as spiritual electors, they might take precedence of all 
others, and, as branches of the sacred hierarchy, hold an 
honorable and uncontested rank. 

If now we think of the extraordinary privileges which these 
ancient houses enjoyed, not only in their old patrimonial 
estates, but also in the ecclesiastical endowments, the knightly 
orders, the official administration of the Empire, and the old 
brotherhoods and alliances for mutual defence and protection, 
we can vainly conceive that this great body of influential men 
feeling themselves at once subordinated to and co-ordinate 
with the highest, and occupying their days with a regular round 
of employments, might well be contented with their situation, 
and would without further anxiety seek only to secure and trans- 
mit to their successors the same comforts and prerogatives. 



STATE OF GERMANY. 90 

Nor was this class deficient in intellectual culture. Already for 
more than a century the decided proofs of high training in. 
military and political science had been discernible in our noble 
soldiers ana diplomatists. But at the same time there were 
many minds who, through literary and philosophical studies, 
had arrived at views not over favorable to the existing state 
of things. 

In Germany scarcely any one had as yet learned to look 
with envy on that monstrous privileged class, or to grudge its 
fortunate advantages. The middle class had devoted them- 
selves imdistm-bed to commerce and the sciences, and by 
these pursuits, as well as by the practice of the mechanic arts, so 
closely related to them, had raised themselves to a position of 
importance which fully balanced its political inferiority ; the 
free or half-free cities favoured this activity, while individuals 
felt a certain quiet satisfaction in it. The man who increased 
his wealth, or enhanced his intellectual influence, especially in 
matters of law or state, could always be sure of enjoying both 
respect and authority. In the Supreme Courts of the empire, 
and indeed in aU others, a learned bench stood parallel with the 
noble ; the uncontrolled oversight of the one managed to keep in 
harmony with the deepest insight of the other; and experience 
could never detect a trace of rivalry between them ; the noble 
felt secure in his exclusive and time-hallowed privileges, and 
the bui'gher felt it beneath his dignity to strive for a semblance 
of them by a little prefix to his name.^' The merchant, the 
manufactm-er, had enough to do to keep pace with those of 
other nations in progress and improvement. Leaving out of 
the account the usual temporary fluctuations, we may certainly 
say that it was on the whole a time of puj.'e advance, such as 
had not appeared before, and such as, on account of another 
and greater progress both of mind and things, could not long 
continue. 

My position with regard to the higher classes at this time 
was very favorable. In JVerther, to be sure, the disagree- 
able circumstances which arise just at the boundary between 
two distinct positions, were descanted upon with some impa- 
tience; but this was overlooked in consideration of the gene- 



* The "von'' ^hich in Germany those who are ennobled prefix t''> 
their surnamea, 

H 2 



100 TKUTH AND POETKY; FKOM MY OWN LIFE. 

rally passionate character of the book, since every one felt 
that it had no reference to any immediate effect. 

But Gotz von Berlichingen had set me quite right with 
the upper classes ; whatever improprieties might be charged 
upon my earlier literary productions, in this work I had with 
considerable learning and cleverness depicted the old German 
constitution, with its inviolable emperor at the head, with its 
many degrees of nobility, and a knight who, in a time of 
general lawlessness, had determined as a private man to act 
uprightly, if not lawfully, and thus fell into a very sorry pre- 
dicament. This complicated story, however, was not snatched 
from the air, but founded on fact ; it was cheerfully lively, 
and consequently here and there a little modern, but it was, 
nevertheless, on the whole, in the same spirit as the brave and 
capable man had with some degree of skill set it forth in his 
own narrative. 

The family still flourished; its relation to the Frankish 
knighthood had remained in all its integrity, although that 
relation, like many others at that time, might have grown 
somewhat faint and nominal. 

Now all at once the little stream of Jaxt, and the castle of 
Jaxthausen, acquired a poetical importance ; they, as well as 
the council-house at Heilbronn, were visited by travellers. 

It was laiown that I had the mind to write of other points 
of that historical period ; and many a family, which could 
readily deduce its origin from that time, hoped to see its 
ancestors brought to the light in the same way. 

A strange satisfaction is generally felt, when a writer feli- 
citously recalls a nation's history to its recollection; men 
rejoice in the virtues of their ancestors, and smile at the fail- 
ings, which they belie^'e they themselves have long since got 
rid of. Such a delineation never fails to meet with sympathy 
and applause, and in this respect I enjoyed an envied influence. 
Yet it may be worth while to remark, that among the 
numerous advances, and in the multitude of young persons 
who attached themselves to me, there was found no noble- 
man; on the other hand, many who had already arrived at 
the age of thirty sought me and visited me, and of these the 
willing and striving were pervaded by a joyful hope of 
earnestly developing themselves in a national and even more 
universally humane sense. 



ULKICH VON HUTTEN. 101 

At this time a general curiosity about tlie epoch between 
the fifteenth and sixteenth century had commenced, and was 
very lively. The works of Ulkich von Hutten had fallen 
into my hands, and I was not a httle struck to see something 
so similar to what had taken place in his time, again manifest- 
ing itself in om' later days. 

The following letter of Ulrich von Hutten to Billibald Pyrk- 
heymer, may therefore suitably find place here : — 

" "Wliat fortune- gives us, it generally takes away again ; and 
not only that — everything else which accrues to man from 
without, is, we see, liable to accident and change. And yet, 
notwithstanding, I am now striving for honor, which I should 
Avish to obtain, if possible, without enxj, but still at any cost; 
for a fiery thirst for glory possesses me, so that I wish to be 
ennobled as highly as possible. I should make but a poor 
figure in my own eyes, dear Billibald, if, born in the rank, in 
the family I am, and of such ancestors, I could be content to 
hold myself to be noble, though I never ennobled myself by my 
own exertions. So great a work have I in my mind! my 
thoughts are higher ! it is not that I would see myself pro- 
moted to a more distinguished and more brilliant rank ; but I 
would fain seek a fountain elsewhere, out of which I might 
draw a peculiar nobility of my own, and not be counted 
among the factitious nobility, contented with what I have 
received from my ancestors. On the contrary, I would add 
to those advantages something of my own, which may, from 
me, pass over to my posterity. 

"Therefore, in my studies and my efforts, I proceed in 
opposition to the opinion of those who consider that what 
actually exists is enough ; for to me nothing of that sort is 
enough, according to what I have already confessed to you of 
my ambition in this respect. And I here avow that I do not 
6nvy those who, starting from the lowest stations, have 
climbed higher than myself; for on this point I by no means 
agree with those of my own rank, who are wont to sneer at 
persons who, of a lower origin, have, by their own talents, 
raised themselves to eminence. For those with perfect right 
are to be preferred to us, who have seized for themselves and 
taken possession of the material of glory, which we ourselves 
neglected; they may be the sons of fullers or of tanners, but 
they have contrived to attain their ends, by struggling witV. 



102 TKUTH AND POETEY; FKOM MY OWN LIFE. 

greater difficulties than we ever had against us. The ignorant 
man, who envies him who by his knowledge has distinguished 
himself, is not only to be called a fool, but is to be reckoned 
among the miserable — indeed among the most miserable ; and 
with this disease are our nobles especially affected, that they 
look with an evil eye upon such accomplishments. For what, in 
God's name I is it to envy one who possesses that which we have 
despised? Why have we not applied ourselves to the law? 
why have we not ourselves this excellent' learning, the best 
arts? And now fullers, shoemakers, and wheelwrights, go 
before us. Why have we forsaken our post, why left the 
most liberal studies to hired servants and (shamefully for us !) 
to tne very lowest of the people? Most justly has that inhe- 
ritance of nobility which we have thrown away been taken 
possession of by every clever and diligent plebeian who makes 
it profitable by its own industry. Wretched beings that we 
are, who neglect that which suffices to raise the very humblest 
above us; let us cease to envy, and strive also to obtain 
what others, to our deep disgrace, have claimed for them- 
selves. 

*" Every longing for glory is honorable ; all striving for the 
excellent is praiseworthy. To every rank may its own honor 
remain, may its own ornaments be secured to it! Those 
statues of my ancestors I do not despise any more than the 
richly endowed pedigree ; but whatever their worth may be, 
it is not ours, unless by our own merits we make it ours ; nor 
can it endure, if the nobility do not adopt the habits which 
become them. In vain will yonder fat and corpulent head of 
a noble house point to the images of his ancestors, whilst he 
himself, inactive, resembles a clod rather than those whose 
virtues throw a halo upon his name from bygone days. 

" So much have I wished most fully and most frankly to 
confide to you respecting my ambition and my nature." 

Although, perhaps, not exactly in the same train of ideas, 
yet the same excellent and strong sentiments had I to hear 
from my more distinguished friends and acquaintances, of 
which the results appeared in an honest activity. It had 
become a creed, that every one must earn for himself a per- 
sonal nobility, and if any rivalry appeared in those fine dayf>, 
it was from above downwards. 

We others, on the contrary, had what we wished; the free 



i-RANKrORT AND ITS CONSTITirTION. lOS 

and approved exercise of tlie talents lent to iis by imtiire, as 
far as could consist with all our civil relations. 

For my native city had in this a very peculiar position, and 
one which has not been enough considered. While of the 
free imperial cities the northern could boast of an extended 
commerce, but the southern, declining in commercial import.- 
ance, cultivated the arts and manufactures with more success ; 
Frankfort on the Main exhibited a somewhat mixed character, 
combining the results of trade, wealth, and capital, with the 
passion for learning, and its collection of works of art. 

The Lutheran Confession controlled its government; the 
ancient lordship of the Gan, now bearing the name of the house 
of Limburg ; the house of Frauenstein, originally only a ckib, 
but during the troubles occasioned by the lower classes, faith- 
ful to the side of intelligence; the jurist, and others well to 
do and well disposed — ^none was excluded from the magis- 
tracy; even those mechanics who had upheld the cause of 
order at a critical time, were eligible to the council, though 
vhey were only stationary in their place. The other constitu- 
tional comiterpoises, formal institutions, and whatever else 
belongs to such a constitution, afforded employment to the 
activity of many persons ; while trade and manufacture, in so 
favorable a situation, found no obstacle to their growth and 
prosperity. 

The higher nobility kept to itself, unenvied and almost im- 
noticed ; a second class pressing close upon it was forced to be 
more active; and resting upon old wealthy family founda- 
tions, sought to distinguish itself by political and legal 
learning. 

The members of the so-called Reformed persuasion (Cal- 
vinists) composed, like the refugees in other places, a distin- 
guished class, and when they rode out in fine equipages on 
Sundays to their service in Bockenheim, seemed almost to 
celebrate a sort of triumph over the citizen's party, who had 
the privilege of going to church on foot in good weather and 
in bad. 

The Roman Catholics were scarcely noticed; but they also 
were aware of the advantages which the other two confessions 
had appropriated to themselves. 



EIGHTEENTH BOOK. 



Retuhning to literary matters, I must bring forward a cir- 
cumstance which had great influence on the German poetry 
of this period, and which is especially -worthy of remark, be- 
cause this very influence has lasted through the history of our 
poetic art to the present day, and will not be lost even in the 
future. 

From the earlier times, the Germans were accustomed to 
rhyme ; it had this advantage in its favour, that one could 
proceed in a very naive manner, scarcely doing more than 
count the syllables. If with the progress of improvement 
attention began more or less instinctively to be paid also to 
the sense and signification of the syllables, this was highly 
piaiseworthy, and a merit which many poets contrived to 
malce their own. The rh\Tne was made to mark the close of 
the poetical proposition ; the smaller divisions were indicated 
by shorter lines, and a naturally refined ear began to make 
provision for variety and grace. But now all at once rhyme 
was rejected before it was considered that the value of the 
syllables had not as yet been decided, indeed that it was a 
difficult thing to decide. Klopstock took the lead. How 
earnestly he toiled and what he has accomplished is well 
known. Eveiy one felt the uncertainty of the matter, many 
did not like to run a j^isk, and stimulated by this natural ten- 
dency, they snatched at a poetic prose, Gessner's extremely 
charming Idylls opened an endless path. Klopstock wrote 
the dialogue of Hermann's Schlacht (Hermann's Battle) in 
prose, as Avell as I)er Tod Admfis {The Death of Adam). 
Through the domestic tragedies as well as the more classic 
dramas, a style more lofty and more impassioned gained pos- 
session of the theatre ; while, on the other hand, the Iambic 
verse of five feet, which the example of the English had 
spr,^.;,,d among us, was reducing poesy to prose. But in gene- 
ral the demand for rhythm and for rhyme could not be 
silenced. Ramler, though proceeding on vague principles 
(as he was always severe, with respect to his own prodiictions), 
could not help exercising the same severity upon those of 



HANS SACHS. 105 

others. He transformed prose into verse, altered and im- 
proved the works of others, by which means he earned little 
thanks and only confused the matter still more. Those suc- 
ceeded best who still conformed to the old custom of rhyme 
with a certain observance of syllabic quantity, and who, 
guided by a natm^al taste, observed laws though unexpressed 
and undetermined; as, for example, Wieland, who, although 
inimitable, for a longtime served as a model to more moderate 
talents. 

But still in any case the practice remained uncertain, and 
there was no one, even among the best, who might not for the 
moment have gone astray. Hence the misfortune, that this 
epoch of om- poetic history, so peculiarly rich in genius, pro- 
duced little which, in its kind, could be pronounced correct ; 
for here also the time w^as stirring, advancing, active, and 
calling for improvement, but not reflective and satisfying its 
own requirements. 

In order, however, to find a firm soil on which poetic 
genius might find a footing, — to discover an element in ^vhich 
they could breathe freely, they had gone back some centuries, 
where earnest talents were brilliantly prominent amid a 
chaotic state of things, and thus they made friends with the 
poetic art of those times. The Minnesingers lay too far firom 
us ; it would have been necessary first to study the language, 
and that was not our object, we wanted to live and not to 
learn. 

Hans Sachs, the really masterly poet, was one whom we 
could more readily sympathise with. A man of true talent, 
not indeed like the Minnesinging knights and courtiers, but a 
plain citizen, such as we also boasted ourselves to be. A 
didactic realism suited us, and on many occasions we made 
use of the easy rhythm, of the readily occurring rhyme. His 
manner seemed so suitable to mere poems of the day, and to 
such occasional pieces as we were called upon to write at 
every hour. 



If important works, which required the attention and labor 
of a year or a whole life, w^ere built, more or less, upon 
such hazardous gromids on trivial occasions, it may be ima- 
gined how wantonly all other ephemeral productions took 
their rise and shape ; for example, the poetical epistles, para- 



106 TKUTH AND poetry; FROM MY OWN L2FE. 

bles, and invectives of all forms, with which we went on 
making war within om^selves, and seeks squabbling abroad. 

Of this khid, besides what has already been printed, some- 
thing, though very little, survives ; it may be laid up some- 
where. Brief allusions will suffice to reveal to thinking 
men their origin and purposes. Persons of more than oidi- 
nary penetration, to whose sight these may hereafter be 
brought, will be ready to observe that an honest purpose lay 
at the bottom of all such eccentricities. An upright will 
revolts against presumption, nature against conventionalities, 
talent against forms, genius with itself, energy against indeci- 
sion, undeveloped capacity against developed mediocrity ; so 
that the whole proceeding may be regarded as a skirmish 
which follows a declaration of war, and gives promise of a 
violent contest. For, strictly considered, the contest is not 
yet fought out, in these fifty years; it is still going on, only in 
a higher region. 



I had, in imitation of an old German puppet play, invented 
a wild extravaganza, which was to bear the title of Hanswursf s 
Hochzeit {Jack Pudding's Wedding)/^' The scheme was as 
follows: — Hanswurst, a rich young farmer and an orphan, 
has just come of age, and wishes to marry a rich maiden, 
named Ursel Blandine. Hrs guardian, Kilian Brastflech {Lea- 
ther apron), and her mother Ursel, are highly pleased with 
the purpose. Their long-cherished plans, their dearest wishes, 
are at last fulfilled and gratified. There is not the slightest 
obstacle, and properly the whole interest turns only upon this, 
that the young people's ardour for their union is delayed by 
the necessary arrangements and formalities of the occasion. 
As prologue, enters the inviter to the wedding festivities, who 
proclaims the banns after the traditional fashion, and ends with 
the rhymes : 

The wedding feast is at the house 
Of mine host of the Golden Louse. 

To obviate the charge of violating the unity of place, the 
aforesaid tavern, with its glittering insignia, was placed in the 
background of the theatre ; but so that all its foiu' sides could 

* Hanswurst is the old German bnflFoon, whose name answers to the 
English " Jack Pudding."— Tr. 



THE " HAT^SAVtrHST's HOCHZEIT. 107 

be presented to view, by being turned upon a peg ; and as it 
was moved round, the front scenes of the stage had to imdergo 
corresponding changes. 

In the first act the front of the house facing the street was 
tiu'ned to the audience, with its golden sign magnified as it 
were by the solar microscope ; in the second act, the side to- 
wards the garden. The third was toAvards a little wood ; the 
foui'th towards a neighboring lake ; which gave rise to a pre- 
diction that in aftertimes the decorator would have little diffi- 
culty in carrying a wave over the whole stage up to the 
prompter's box. 

But all this does not as yet reveal the peculiar interest of 
the piece. The principal joke which was carried out, even to 
an absmrd length, arose ffom the fact that the whole dramatis 
IjersoncB consisted of mere traditional German nick-nameSy 
which at once brought out the characters of the individuals, 
and determined their relations to one another. 

As we would fain hope that the present book will be read 
aloud in geod society, and even in decent family circles, we 
cannot venture, after the custom of every play- bill, to name 
our persons here in order, nor to cite the passages in which 
they most clearly and prominently showed themselves in their 
true colours ; although, in the simplest way possible, lively, 
roguish, broad allusions, and witty jokes, could not but arise. 
We add one leaf as a specimen, leaving our editors the liberty 
of deciding upon its admissibility. 

Cousin Schuft {scamp), through his relationship to the 
family, was entitled to an invitation to the feast ; no one had 
anything to say against it ; for though he was a thoroughly 
good-for-nothing fellow, yet there he was, and since he was 
there, they could not with propriety leave him out ; on such 
a feast-day, too, they were not to remember that they had 
occasionally been dissatisfied with him. 

With Master Schurke (Jmave), it was a still more serious 
case ; he had, indeed, been useful to the family, when it was 
to his own profit ; on the other hand, again, he had injured it, 
perhaps, in this case, also with an eye to his owti interests ; 
perhaps, too, because he found an opportunity. Those who 
were any ways prudent voted for his admission ; the few who 
would have excluded him, were out-voted. 

But there was a thii'd person, about whom it was still more 



108 TKUTII AND POETEY; PROM MY OWN LIFE. 

difficult to decide ; an orderly man in society, no less than 
others, obliging, agreeable, useful in many ways; he had the 
single failing, that he could not bear his name to be men- 
tioned, and as soon as he heard it, was instantaneously trans- 
ported into a heroic fury, like that which the Northmen caU 
Berserlier-rage, attempted to kill all right and left, and in his 
frenzy hurt others and received hurt himself; indeed the 
■second act of the piece was brought, through him, to a very 
perplexed termination. 

Here was an opportunity which I could not allow to pass, 
for chastising the piratical publisher Macklot. He is intro- 
duced going about hawking his Macklot wares, and when he 
hears of the preparation for the wedding, he cannot resist the 
impulse to go spunging for a dinner, and to stuff his ravening 
maw at other people's expense. He announces himself; 
Kilian Brustflech inquires into his claims, but is obliged to 
refuse him, since it was an understanding that all the guests 
should be well known public characters, to which recommen- 
dation the applicant can make no clain. Macklot does his 
best to show that he is as renowned as any of them. But 
when Kilian Brustflech, as a strict master of ceremonies, 
shows himself immoveable, the nameless person, who has re- 
covered from his Berserker-rage at the end of the second act, 
espouses the cause of his near relative, the book-pirate, so 
■urgently, that the latter is finally admitted among the guests. 

About this time the Counts Stolberg arrived at Frank- 
fort ; they were on a jom^ney to Switzerland, and wished to 
make us a visit. The earliest productions of my dawning 
talent, which appeared in the Gottingen 3£usenalmanach, had 
led to my forming a friendly relation with them, and with all 
those other young men whose characters and labors are now 
well known. At that time rather strange ideas were enter- 
tained of friendship and love. They applied themselves to 
/nothing more, properly speaking, than a certain vivacity of 
youth, which led to a mutual association and to an interchange 
of minds, full indeed of talent but nevertheless uncultivated. 
Such a mutual relation, which looked indeed like confidence, was 
.mistaken for love, for genuine inclination ; I deceived myself 
in this as well as others, and have, in more than one way, 
suffered from it many years. There is still in existence a 



THE STOLBEKGS. 109 



letter of Burger's belonging to that time, from whicli it may- 
be seen that, among these companions, there was no question 
about the moral eesthetic. Every one felt hiniself excited, and 
thought that he might act and poetize accordingly. 

The brothers arrived, bringing Count Haugwitz with them. 
They were received by me with open heart, with kindly pro- 
priety. They lodged at the hotel, but were generally with us 
at dinner. The first joyous meeting proved highly gratifying ; 
but troublesome eccentricities soon manifested themselves. 

A singular position arose for my mother. In her ready 
frank way, she could carry herself back to the middle age at 
once, and take the part of Aja with some Lombard or Byzan- 
tine princess. They called her nothing else but Frau Aja, 
and she was pleased with the joke ; entering the more hear- 
tily into the fantasies of youth, as she believed she saw her 
own portrait in the lady of Gotz von Berlichingen. 

But this could not last long. We had dined together but 
a few times, when once, after enjoying glass after glass, our 
poetic hatred for tyrants showed itself, and we avowed a 
thirst for the blood of such villains. Mj father smiled and 
shook his head ; my mother had scarcely heard of a tyrant in 
her life, however she recollected having seen the copper-plate 
engraving of such a monster in Gottfried's Chronicle,^ viz., 
Kmg Cambyses, whom he describes as having shot with an 
arrow the little son of an enemy through the heart, and boast- 
ing of his deed to the father's face ; this still stood in her 
memory. To give a cheerfid turn to the conversation which 
continually grew more violent, she betook herself to her 
cellar, where her oldest wines lay carefully preserved in large 
casks. There she had in store no less treasure than the vin- 
tages of 1706, .'19, '26, and '48, all under her own especial 
watch and ward, which were seldom broached except on 
solemn festive occasions. 

As she set before us the rich-colored wine in the polished 
decanter, she exclaimed: "Here is the true tyi-ant's blood! 
Glut yom-selves with this, but let all murderous thoughts go 
out of my house !" 

"Yes, tyrants' b:.ood indeed!" I cried; "there is no greater 
tyrant than the one whose heart's blood is here set before you. 
Regale yourselves with it; but use moderation! for beware 
lest he subdue you by his spirit and agreeable taste. The vine 



no TRUTH AND poetry; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

is the universal tyrant who ought to be rooted up; let us 
therefore choose and reverence as our patron Saint the holy 
Lycurgus, the Thracian; he set about the pious work in 
earnest, and though at last blinded and corrupted by the 
infatuating demon Bacchus, he yet deserves to stand high in 
the armj of martyrs above. 

" This vine-stock is the very vilest tyrant, at once an op- 
pressor, a flatterer, and a hypocrite. The first draughts of 
his blood are sweetly relishing, but one drop incessantly entices 
another after it ; they succeed each other like a necklace of 
pearls, which one fears to pull apart." 

If any should suspect me here of substituting, as the besl 
historians have done, a fictitious speech for the actual address, 
I can only express my regret that no short-hand writer had 
taken do%vn this peroration at once and handed it down to us. 
The thoughts would be found the same, but the flow of the 
language perhaps more graceful and attractive. Above all, 
however, in the present sketch, as a whole, there is a want of 
that difllise eloquence and fulness of youth, Avhich feels itself, 
and Imows not whither its strength and faculty will carry it. 

•In a city like Frankfort, one is placed in a strange position ; 
strangers continually crossing each other, point to every region 
of the globe, and awaken a passion for travelling. On many 
an occasion before now I had shown an inclination to be mov- 
ing, and now at the very moment when the great point was 
to make an experiment whether I could renounce Lilli — ^when 
a certain painful disquiet unfitted me for aU regular business, 
the proposition of the Stolbergs, that I should accompany them 
to Switzerland, was welcome. Stimulated, moreover, by the 
exhortations of my father, who looked with pleasure on the 
idea of my travelling in that direction, and who advised me 
not to oniit to pass over into Italy, if a suitable occasion 
should ofier itself, I at once decided to go, and soon had 
everything packed for the journey. With some intimation, 
but without leave-taking, I separated myself from Lili; she 
liad so grown into my heart, that I did not believe it possible 
to part myself from her. 

In a few hours I found myself with my merry fellow-tra- 
Tellers in Darmstadt. Even at court We should not always 
act with perfect propriety; here Count Haugwitz took the 
lead. He was the youngest of us all, well formed, of a delicate, 



THE STOLBEBGS. Ill 

but noble appearance, with soft friendly features, of an equable 
disposition, sjonpathizing enough, but with so much modera- 
tion, that, contrasted with us, he appeared quite impassible. 
Consequently, he had to put up mth all sorts of jibes and 
nicknames from them. This was aU very well, so long as they 
believed that they might act like children of nature; but as 
s5oon as occasion called for propriety, and when one was again 
oblio-ed, not unwillingly, to put on the reserve of a Count, 
then he knew how to introduce and to smoothe over every- 
thing, so that we always came off with tolerable credit, if not 
with eclat. 

I spent my time, meanwhile, with Merck, who in his Mephis- 
tophelist manner looked upon my intended journey with an 
evil eye, and described my companions, who had also paid him 
a visit, with a discrimination that listened not to any sugges- 
tions of mercy. In his way he knew me thoroughly; "the 
naive and indomitable good nature of my character was pain- 
ful to him; the everlasting purpose to take things as they are, 
the live and let live was his detestation. "It is a foolish 
trick," he said, " your going with these Burschen;" and then 
he would describe them aptly, but not altogether justly. 
Throughout there was a want of good feeling, and here I 
could believe that I could see further than he did, although I 
did not in fact do this, but only knew how to appreciate those 
ideas of their character, which lay beyond the circle of his 
vision. 

" You will not stay long with them ! " was the close of all 
his remarks. On this occasion I remember a remarkable 
saying of his, which he repeated to me at a later time, which 
I had often repeated to myself, and frequently found confirmed 
in life. " Thy striving," said he, " thy unswerving effort is 
to give a poetic form to the real; others seek to give reality 
to the so-called poetic, to the imaginative, and of that nothing 
wiU ever come but stupid stuff." Whoever apprehends the 
immense difference between these two modes of action, who- 
ever insists and acts upon this conviction, has reached the 
solution of a thousand other things. 

Unhappily, before our party left Darmstadt, an incident 
happened which tended to verify beyond dispute the opinion 
of Merck. 

Among the extravaganzas which grew out of the notion that 



112 TEUTH AND POETKY; TKOM MY OWIT LIFE. 

we should try to transport ourselves into a state of nature, 
was that of bathing in public waters, in the open air; and 
our friends, after violating every other law of propriety, could 
not forego this additional imseemliness. Darmstadt, situated 
on a sandy plain, without running water, had, it appeared, a 
pond in the neighbourhood, of which I only heard on this 
occasion. My friends, who were hot by nature, and moreover 
kept continually heating themselves, sought refreshment in 
this pond. The sight of naked youths in the clear sunshine, 
might well seem something strange in this region; at all 
events scandal arose. Merck sharpened his conclusions, and I 
do not deny that I was glad to hasten our departure. 

On the way to Mannheim, in spite of all good and noble 
feelings which we entertained in common, a certain difference 
in sentiment and conduct already exhibited itself. Leopold 
Stolberg told us Avith much of feeling and passion, that he 
had been forced to renounce a sincere attachment to a beautiful 
English lady, and on that account had undertaken so long a 
journey. When he received in return the sympathising con- 
fession that we too were not strangers to such experiences, 
then he gave vent without respect to the feelings of youth, 
declaring that nothing in the world could be compared with 
his passion, his sufferings, or with the beauty and amiability 
of his beloved. If by moderate observations we tried, as is 
proper among good companions, to bring him duly to qualify 
his assertion, it only made matters worse ; and Count Haugwitz, 
as well as I, were inclined at last to let the matter drop. When 
we had reached Mannheim, we occupied pleasant chambers 
in a respectable hotel, and after our first dinner there during 
the dessert, at which the wine was not spared, Leopold chal- 
lenged us to drink to the health of his fair one, which was 
done noisily enough. After the glasses were drained, he cried 
out : But now, out of goblets thus consecrated, no more drink- 
ing must be permitted ; a second health would be a profana- 
tion ; therefore, let us annihilate these vessels ! and with these 
words he dashed the wine-glass against the wall behind him. 
The rest of us followed his example ; and I imagined at the 
moment, that Merck pulled me by the collar. 

But youth still retains this trait of childhood, that it harbors 
no malice against good companions ; that its unsophisticated 
good nature may be brushed somewhat roughly indeed, to b@ 
sure, but cannot be permanently injiu'ed. 



KLOPSTOCK, 12 3 

The glasses tlius proclaimed angelical Iiad considerably 
swelled our reckoning, comforting oui'selves, liowever, and 
determined to be merry, we hastened for Carlsruhe, there to 
enter a new cii'cle, with all the confidence of youth and its 
freedom from care. There we found Klopstock, who still 
maintained, with dignity, his ancient authority over disciples 
who held him in reverence. I also gladly did homage to him, 
so that when bidden to his court with the others, I probably 
conducted myself tolerably well for a novice. One felt, too, 
in a certain manner called upon to be natural and sensible at 
the same time. 

The reigning Margrave, highly honored among the German 
Sovereigns as one of their princely seniors, but more especi- 
ally on account of the excelleiit aims of his government, was 
glad to converse about matters of political economy. The 
Margravine, active and well versed in the arts and various 
useful branches of knowledge, was also pleased by some 
gracefid speeches to manifest a certain sympathy for us ; for 
which we were duly grateful, though w^hen at home we could 
not refrain from venting some severe remarks upon her miser- 
able paper-manufactory, and the favor she showed to the 
piratical bookseller Macldot. 

The circumstance, however, of importance for me, was, that 
the yoimg duke of Saxe-Weimar had arrived here to enter 
into a formal matrimonial engagement with his noble bride, 
the princess Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt; President von 
Moser had akeady arrived on the same business, in order to 
settle this important contract with the court-tutor Count 
Gortz, and fully to ratify it. My conversations with both 
the high personages were most friendly, and at the farewell 
audience, they both made me repeated assurances that it 
V ould be pleasant to them to see me at Weimar. 

Some private conversations with Klopstock, won me by the 
friendliness they showed, and led me to use openness and can- 
dour with him. I communicated to him the latest scenes of 
Faust, which he seemed to approve of. Indeed, as I afterwards 
learned, he had spoken of them to others with marked com- 
mendation, a thing not usual with him, and expressed a wish 
to see the conclusion of the piece. 

Our forxner rudeness, though sometimes as we called it, our 
genius -like demeanour, was kept in something like a chaste 
Vol. II. I 



114 TRUTH AND POETRY; EROM MY OWN LIFE. 

restraint in Carlsruhe, wliicli is decent and almost holy 
ground. I parted from my companions, as I had resolved to 
talce a wide round and go to Emmendingen, where my brother- 
in-law was high bailiff. I looked upon this visit to my sister 
p,s a real trial. I knew that she had not a happy existence, 
while there was no cause to find fault with her, with her hus- 
band, or with circumstances. She was of a peculiar nature, 
nf which it is difficult to speak ; we will endeavour, however, 
to set down here whatever admits of being described. 

A fine form was in her favor; but not so her features, which, 
although expressing clearly enough, goodness, intelligence, 
and sensibility, w^ere nevertheless wanting in regularity and 
grace. 

Add to this, that a high and strongly arched forehead, ex- 
posed still more by the abominable fashion of dressing the 
hair back on the head, contributed to leave a certain unplea- 
sant impression, although it bore the best testimony to her 
moral and intellectual qualities. I can fancy, that if after 
the modern fashion, she had surrounded the upper part of her 
face with curls, and clothed her temples and cheeks with 
ringlets, she would have found herself more agreeable before 
the mirror, without fear of displeasing others as well as her- 
self. Then there was the grave fault, that her skin was 
seldom clean, an evil which from her youth up, by some 
demoniacal fatality, was most sure to show itself on all festal 
occasions, and at concerts, balls, and other parties. 

In spite of these drawbacks she gradually made her way, 
however, as her better and nobler qualities showed themselves 
more distinctly. 

A firm character not easily controlled, a soul that sympa- 
thised and needed sympathy, a highly cultivated mind, fine 
acquirements and talents; some knowledge of languages and 
a ready pen — all these she possessed — so that if she had been 
more richly favored with outward charms, she would have 
been among the women most sought after in her day. 

Besides all this there is one strange thing to be mentioned: 
there was not the slightest touch of sensual passion in her 
nature. She had grown up with me, and had no other wish 
than to continue and pass her life in this fraternal union. 
Since my return from the University we had been inseparable; 
with the most unreserved confidence we shared all our thoughts, 



MY SISTEE. 116 

feelings, and humors, and even tlie most incidental and pass- 
ing impressions of every accidental circnmstance. When I 
went to Wetzlar, the loneliness of the house without me 
seemed insupportable ; my friend Schlosser, neither unknown 
nor repugnant to the good girl, stepped into my place. In 
him, unfortunately, the brotherly affection changed into a 
decided, and to judge from his strictly conscientious character, 
jDrobably a first passion. Here there was found what people 
call as good a match as could be wished, and my sister, aftet 
having stedfastly rejected several good offers, but from 
insignificant men, whom she always had an aversion to, 
allowed herself to be, I may well say, talked into accepting 
him. 

I must frankly confess that I have frequently indulged in 
fancies about my sister's destiny, I did not like to think of her 
as the mistress of a family, but rather as an Abbess, as the 
Lady Superior of some noble community. She possessed 
every requisite for such a high position, while she was want- 
ing in aU that the world deems indispensable in its members. 
Over feminine souls she always exercised an irresistible infiu- 
ence ; young minds were gently attracted towards her, and she 
ruled them by the spirit of her inward superiority. As she 
had in common with me an universal tolerance for the -good, 
the human, with all its eccentricities, provided they did not 
amount to perversity, there was«no need for seeking to conceal 
from her any idiosyncrasy which might mark any remarkable 
natural talents, or for its o^vner feeling any constraint in her 
presence; hence om* parties, as we have seen before, were 
always varied, free, ingenuous, and sometimes perhaps bor- 
dering on boldness. My habit of forming intimacies with 
young ladies of a respectful and obliging nature, without 
allowing any closer engagement or relations to grow out of 
them, was mainly owing to my sister's influence over me. 
And now the sagacious reader, who is capable of reading into 
these lines what does not stand written in them, but is never- 
theless implied, will be able to form some conception of the 
serious feehngs with which I then set foot in Emmendingen. 

But at my departure, after a short ^dsit, a heavier load lay 
on my heart, for my sister had earnestly recommended not to 
say enjoined me, to break off my connection with Lilli. Sho 
herself liad suffered muchfi-om along-protracted engagement: 

12 



116 TRUTH AND POETKY; TliOM MY OWN LIFE. 

Schlosser, with his spirit of rectitude, did not betroth himself 
to her, until he was sure of his appointment under the Grand 
Duke of Baden ; indeed, if one would take it so, imtil he was 
actually appointed. The answer to his application, however, 
was delayed in an incredible manner. If I may express my 
conjecture on the matter, the brave Schlosser, able man of 
business as he was, was nevertheless on account of his down- 
right integrity, desirable neither to the prince as a servant, 
immediately in contact with himself, nor to the minister, who 
still less liked to have so honest a coadjutor near to him. 
His expected and earnestly desired appointment at Carlsrulie 
was never filled up. But the delay was explained to me, 
when the place of Upper Bailiff in Emmendingen became 
vacant, and he v/as instantly selected for it. Thus an office 
of much dignity and profit was now intrusted to him, for 
which he had shown himself fully competent. It seemed 
entirely suited to his taste, his mode of action, to stand here 
alone to act according to his own conviction, and to be held 
responsible for everything, whether for praise or blame. 

As no objections could be raised to his accepting this place, 
my sister had to follow him, not indeed to a Court-residence, 
as she had hoped, but to a place which must have seemed to 
her a solitude, a desert ; to a dwelling, spacious to be sure, 
with an official dignity, and stately, but destitute of all chance 
of society. Some yomig ladies, with whom she had cultivated 
an early friendship, followed her there, and as the Gerock 
family was blessed with many daughters, these contrived to 
stay with her in turn, so that, in the midst of such privation, 
she alwaj^s enjoyed the presence of at least one long-trusted 
friend. 

These circumstances, these experiences, made her feel 
justified in recommending to me, most earnestly, a separation 
from Lili. She thought it hard to take such a young lady 
(of whom she had formed the highest opinion) out of the 
midst of a lively, if not splendid circle, and to shut her up in. 
our old house, which, although very passable in its way, was 
not suited for the reception of distinguished society, sticking 
her, as it were, between a well-disposed, but unsociable, pre- 
cise, and formal father, and a mother extremely active in her 
domestic matters, who, after the household business of the 
4ay was over would not like to be disturbed over som.y 



SCHArrHAUSEN — ZURICH LAYATEE. i IT 

notable bit of work by a friendly conversation with forward 
and refined young girls. On the other hand, she in a lively 
manner set Lili's position before me; for, partly in my 
letters, partly in a confidential but impassioned conversation, 
I had told her everything to a hair. 

Unfortunately her conception was only a circumstantial 
and well-meant completion of what a gossiping friend, in 
whom, by degrees, all confidence ceased to be .placed, had 
contrived by mentioning a few characteristic traits to insi- 
nuate into her mind. 

I could promise her nothing, although I was obliged to 
confess that she had convinced me. I went on with that 
enigmatic feeling in my heart, with which passion always 
nourishes itself; for the Child Cupid clings obstinately to the 
garment of Hope, even when she is preparing with long steps 
to flee away. 

The only thing between this place and Ziu:ich which I now 
dearly remember, is the falls of the Rhine at Schafi'hausen. 
A mighty cascade here gives the indication of the mourn, 
tainous region which we designed to enter ; where, each step 
becoming steeper and more difficult, we should have labori- 
ously to clamber up the heights. 

The view of the lake of Zurich, which we enjoyed from the 
gate of the '■'• Sword^' is still before me; I say from the gate 
of the tavern, for, without stopping to enter it, I hastened to 
Lavater. He gave me a cheerful and hearty reception, and 
was, I must confess, extremely gracious; confiding, con- 
siderate, kind, and elevating was his bearing, indeed, it would 
be impossible to expect anything else of him. His wife, with 
somewhat singular, but serene tenderly pious expression of 
countenance, fully hannonized, like everything else about 
him, with his way of thinking and living. 

Our first, and perhaps only theme of conversation, was his 
system of Physiognomy. The first part of this remarkable 
work, was, if I mistake not, akeady printed, or, at least, near 
its completion. It might be said to be at once stamped with 
genius and yet empirical; methodical, but still in its instances 
incomplete and partial. I was strangly connected with it, 
Lavater wanted all the world for co-operators and sym 
pathizers. During his travels up the Ehine, he had portraits 
taken of a great many distinguished men, in order to excite 



118 TllUTH Als^D POETHY; PllOM JMY OWN LIPE. 

tlieir perso]ial interest in a work in which they were ta 
af)pear. He proceeded in the same way with artists; he 
called upon every one to send him drawings for illustrations. 
The latter came, and many were not exactly suited for his 
purpose. So, too, he had copper-plates engraved in all parts, 
which seldom tm-ned out characteristic copies. Much labor 
nad been bestowed on his ]3art ; with money and exertions of 
all kinds an important v»^ork was now ready, and full honor 
was done to Physiognomy. But when in a great volume, illus- 
trated by ei:amples. Physiognomy, founded on doctrine, was 
to set up its claims to the dignity of science, it was found 
that not a single picture said what it ought to say ; all the 
plates had to be censured or to be taken with exceptions, 
none to be praised, but only tolerated ; many, indeed, were 
quite altered by the explanations. For me, who in all my 
studies sought a firm footing before I went further, I had 
now to perform one of the most painful tasks which industry 
could be set to. Let the reader judge. The manuscript, with 
impressions of the plates inserted was sent to me at Frank- 
fort. I was authorized to strike out whatever displeased me, 
to change and put in what I liked. However I made a very 
moderate use of this liberty. In one instance he had intro- 
duced a long and violent piece of controversy against an 
unjust orator, which I left out, and substituted a cheerful 
poem about nature ; for this he scolded me, but afterwards^ 
when he had cooled down, approved of what I had done. 

Whoever turns over the foiu- volumes of Physiognomy, and 
(what he will not repent of) reads them, may conceive the 
interest there was in our interviews, during which, as most of 
the plates contained in it were abeady drawn and part of 
them had been engraved, we examined, and decided on those 
fit to be inserted in the work, and considered the ingenious 
means by which those, which did not exactly tally with its 
principles, might be made instructive and suitable. 

Whenever at present I look through the work of Lavater, 
a strange comic, merry feeling comes over me ; it seems as 
if I saw before me the shadows of men formerly known t:» 
me, over vv^hom I once fretted, and in whom I find little 
satisfaction now. 

The possibility, however, of retaining in some sort, much 
that otherwise would have been unsuitabiej was owing to the 



VISIT TO BODMER. 119 

fine and decided talent of the sketcher and engraver, Lips. 
He was, in fact, born for the free prosaic representation of 
the actual, which %Yas precisely the thing wanted in this case. 
He worked luider a singularly exacting physiognomist, and 
therefore was obliged to look sharp to approximate to the 
demands of his master ; the clever peasant-boy felt the whole 
responsibility of working for a clerical gentleman from a city 
so highly privileged, and gave his best care to the business. 

Living in a separate house from my companions, I became 
everj^ day more of a stranger to them, without the least un- 
pleasant feeling having arisen ; our rm-al excursions were no 
longer made together, although in the city we still kept up 
some intercourse. With all the arrogance of 3'oung counts 
they had honored Lavater with a visit and appeared to the 
skilful physiognomist somewhat different from what they did 
to the rest of the world. He spoke to me about them, and I 
remember quite well, that, speaking of Leopold Stolberg, he 
exclaimed: "I know not what you all mean; he is a noble, 
excellent youth, and full of talent; but you have described 
him to me as a hero, as a Hercules, and I have never in my 
life seen a softer and more sensitive young man; nor, if need 
be, one more easily influenced. I am still far from having 
formed a clear physiognomical judgment of him, but as for 
3^ou and all the rest, you are in a fog altogether." 

Since Lavater' s journey on the Lower Rhine, the public 
interest in him and his physiognomical studies had greatly 
increased ; visitors of all sorts crowded upon him, so that he 
felt in some sort embarrassed at being looked upon as the 
first of spiritual and intellectual men, and the chief point of 
attraction for strangers. Hence, to avoid eiiYj and all un- 
pleasant feelings, he managed to remind and warn his visitors 
that they must treat other distinguished men with friendship 
and respect. 

In this especial regard was had to the aged Bodmek, and, 
accordingly, we were compelled to ^dsit him and pay our 
youthfid respects to him. He lived on a hiU, above the large 
or old town, which lay on the right bank, where the lake 
contracts its waters into the Limmat. We crossed the old 
town, and, by a path that became steeper and steeper, at last 
ascended the height behind the walls, where, between the 
fortifications and the old wall, a pleasant subuxo had sprang 



125 THuTir AND poetky; from tmt oavx life. 

up, partly in continuous and partly in detached houses, with 
a half country look. The house where Bodmer had passed 
his whole life, stood in the midst of an open and cheerful 
neighbourhood, which, the day being beautiful and clear, we 
often paused on our road to survey with the greatest pleasure. 

We were conducted up a flight of steps into a wainscoted 
chamber, where a brisk old man, of middle stature, came to 
meet us. He received us Vvdth his usual greeting to young 
visitors ; telling us that we must consider it an act of courtesy 
on his part to have delayed so long his departure from this 
world in order that he might receive us kindly, form our 
acquaintance, refresh himself with our talents, and wish us 
joy in our future career. 

We, on the other hand, congratulated him that, as a poet 
belonging to the patriarchal vforld, he had yet in the neigh- 
bourhood of the most highly cultivated city, possessed during 
his whole life a truly idyllic dwelling, and, in the high free 
air, had enjoyed for so many long years such a wide and 
beautiful prospect to feed his eyes with mifading delight. 

It seemed anything but displeasing to the old man when 
we asked permission to take a view from his window of the 
neighbouring scenery; and truly the prospect in the cheerful 
sunshine, and in the best season of the year, appeared quite 
incomparable. The prospect commanded much of the slope, 
from the great town, down to the water's edge, as well as 
the smaller town across the Limmat, and the whole of the 
fertile Sihl-feld, towards the west. Behind us, on the left, 
was a part of the lake of Zurich, with its bright rippled sur- 
face, and its shores endlessly varying with alternating hill 
and valley and height after height in greater variety than the 
eye could take in, which, dazzled by this splendour, delighted 
to rest on the blue range of the loftier mountains in the 
distance, whose snowy summits man has been so far inti- 
mate with as to give names to. 

The rapture of us young men at sight of the marvellous 
beauty which, for so many years, had daily been before him, 
appeared to please the old poet; he became, so to speak, 
ironically sympathizing, and we parted the best of friends, 
but rot before a yearning for those blue mountain heights 
had taken possession of our souls. 

Now I am on the point of leaving our worthy patriarch, I 



■pASS.iVANT JLAVATES. 121 

remark, for tlie first time, that I have as yet said nothing of 
his form and comitenance, of his movements, and his carriage 
and bearing. 

In general, I do not think it qnite right for travellers to 
describe every distinguished man, whom they visit, as if they 
wanted to furnish materials for advertising a runaway. ISo 
one sufficiently considers that he has only looked at the great 
man duiing the moment of introduction, and then only in his 
own way; and that according to the circumstances of the 
moment the host may or not be what he seemed, proud or 
meek, silent and talkative, cheerful or morose. In this par- 
ticular case, however, I may excuse myself from the attempt, 
by saying that no verbal description of Bodmer's venerable 
person would convey an adequate impression. Fortunately 
there exists a picture of him by Graff, of Bause, which per- 
fectly represents the man as he appeared to us, and, indeed, 
exactly preserves his peculiar penetrating and reflective 
look. 

A great, not indeed unexpected, but still highly coveted 
gratification awaited me in Zurich, where I met my young 
friend, Passavant. Of a respectable family of the reformed 
persuasion, and born in my native city, he lived in Switzer- 
land, at the foimtain-head of the doctrine which he was after- 
wards to proclaim as a preacher. "With a frame not large, 
but active, his face and his whole manner promised a quick 
and agreeable resoluteness of character. His hair and beard 
were black, his eyes lively. On the whole, you saw in him a 
man of some sensitiveness, but of moderate energy. 

Scarcely had we embraced one another and exchanged the 
first greeting, when he immediately proposed to me to visit 
the smaller cantons. Having himself already walked through 
them with great delight, he wished, with the sight of them, to 
awaken my rapture and enthusiasm. 

While I was talking over, with Lavater, the most interest- 
ing and important points of oiu* common business, until we 
had nearly exhausted them, my lively fellow-travellers had 
already sallied forth in various directions, and, in their own 
fashion, had examined the country. Passavant, receiving and 
v^^elcoming me with hearty friendship, believed that he had 
gained thereby a right to the exclusive possession of my 
society, and, therefore, in the absence of my companions, oon- 



122 TKUTH A^D POETEY; rSOM MY OWN JLIFS, 

trived to entice me to the mountains, the more easily, since I 
was decidedly inclined to accomplish the long desired ramble 
in qniet and at liberty to follow my own whims. Without 
further deliberation, therefore, we stepped into a boat and 
sailed up the glorious lake, on a fine clear morning. 

A poem inserted here may give the reader some intimation 
of those happy moments : 

New draughts of strength and youthful blood. 

From this free world I've press' d; 
Here nature is so mild, so good— • 

Who clasps me to her breast. 
The billows rock our Kttle boat, 

The oars in measme beat, 
The hills, while clouds around them float, 

Approach our barque to meet. 

Eye, mine eye, why sink'st thou mournint^? 
Golden dreams, are ye returning? 
Though thou'rt gold, thou dream, farewell ; 
Here, too, life and love can dwell. 

Countless stars are blinking. 

In the waters here. 
On the mountains drinking 

Clouds of mist appear; 
Round the cool bay flying. 

Morning breezes wake. 
Ripen' d fruits are lying 

Mirror' d in the lake. 

We landed in Richterswyl, where we had an introduction 
from Lavater to Doctor PIotze, As a physician, and a higlilj' 
intelligent and benevolent man, he enjoyed great esteem in 
his immediate neighbourhood and in the whole country, and 
we can do no better honor to his memory than by referring to 
a passage in Lavater's Physiognomy, which describes him. 

After a very hospitable entertainment, which he relieved 
with a highly agreeable and instructive conversation, describ- 
ing to us the next halting-places in our journey, we ascended 
the mountains which lay before us. When we were about to 
descend again into the vale of Schindellegi, we tui-ned round 



ST. mahy's hermitage. 123 

to take in once more the charming prospect over the lake of 
Zurich. 

Of my feelings at that moment some idea may be gathered 
from the following lines, which, just as I wrote them down, 
axe still preserved in a little memorandum book : 

Dearest Lili, if I did not love thee, 

I should revel in a scene like this ! 
Yet, sweet Lili, if I did not love thee, 

What were any bliss ? 

This little impromptu seems to me more expressive in its 
present context, than as it stands by itself in the printed col- 
lection of my poems. 

The rough roads, which led to St. Mary's hermitage, did 
not wear out our good spirits. A number of pilgrims, whom 
we had remai'ked below upon the lake, now overtook us and 
asked the aid of our prayers in behalf of their pious object. 
We saluted them and let them pass, and as they moved 
regularly with their hymns and prayers, they lent a charac- 
teristic graceful animation to the dreary heights. We saw 
livingly marked out the serpentine path which we too had to 
travel, and seemed to be joyously following. The customs 
of the Romish chm'ch are altogether significant and imposing 
to the Protestant, inasmuch as he only recognises the inmost 
principle, by which they were first called forth, the human 
element by which they are propagated from race to race ; 
thus penetrating at once to the kernel, without troubling him- 
self, just at the moment with the shell, the rind, or even with 
the tree itself, its twigs, leaves, bark, and roots. 

We now saw rising a dreary, treeless vale, the splendid 
church, the cloister, of broad and stately compass, in the 
midst of a neat place of sojourn for a large and varied assembly 
of guests. 

The little church within the church, the former hermitage 
of the saint, incrusted with marble, and transformed as far as 
possible into a regular chapel, was something new to me ; 
something that I had not seen, this little vessel, surrounded 
and built over with pillars and vaults. It could not but 
excite sober thoughts to reflect how a single spark of good- 
ness, and of the fear of God, had here kindled a bright and 
burning flame, so that troops of believers, never ceased t® 



121 TKUTH AKD POETRY; FEOM MY OWN LIFE. 

make painful pilgrimages in order to light their little tapers 
at this holy fire. However the fact is to be explained, it 
plainly points at least to an nnbonnded craving in man, for 
equal light, for equal warmth, with that which this old hermit 
cherished and enjoyed in the deepest feeling and the most 
secure conviction. We were shewn into the treasure chamber, 
which was rich and imposing enough, and offered to the 
aistonished eye busts of the size of life, not to say colossal, of 
the saints and founders of different orders. 

A very different sort of feeling was awakened at the sight 
of a closet opening upon this. It was filled with antique 
valuables here dedicated and honored. My attention was 
fixed by various golden crowns of remarkable workmanship, 
out of which I contemplated one exclusively. It was a 
pointed crown, in the style of former days, such as one may 
have seen in pictures on the heads of ancient queens, but of a 
most tasteful design and of highly elaborate execution. The 
colored stones with which it was studded were distributed 
over it or set opposite to each other, with great effect and 
judgment; it was, in short, a work of that kind M^hich one 
would pronounce perfect at the first glance, v/ithout waiting 
to bring out this impression by an appeal to the laws of art. 

In such cases, where the art is not recognised, but felt, 
heart and soul are turned towards the object, one would like 
to possess the jewel, that one might impart pleasure to others 
with such a gift. I begged permission to handle the little 
crown, and as I held it up respectfully in my hand, I could 
not help thinking that I should like to press it upon the 
bright, glittering locks of Lili, lead her before the mirror, 
and witness her own joy in it, and the happiness which she 
spread around her. I have often thought since, that this 
Bcene, if realized by a skilful painter, would be highly touch- 
ing and full of meaning. It were worth one's while to be the 
young king to receive a bride and a new kingdom in this 
way. 

In order to show us all the treasures of the cloister, they 
led us into a cabinet of natural and artificial curiosities. I had 
then but little idea of the value of such things ; at that time 
geognosy, which is so commendable in itself, but which frit- 
ters a\vay the impression produced by the earth's beautiful 
surface on the mind's eye, had not begun to entice me, still 



THE SCHWYZEK-HAKEN. 125 

less had a fantastic geology entangled me in its labyi'intiis. 
Nevertheless, the monk who acted as our guide, compelled me 
to bestow some attention on a fossil, much prized as he said 
by connoisseurs, a small wild boar's head well preserved in a 
lump of blue fuller's clay, which, black as it was, has dwelt in 
my imagination ever since. They had found it in the country 
of Rapperswyl, a district which ever since the memoiy of man 
was so full of morasses, that it could well receive and keep 
such mummies for posterity. 

Far different attractions was presented to me by a copper* 
plate engraving of Martin Schon, which was. kept under a 
glass frame, and represented the Assumption of the Virgin. 
True, only a perfect specimen could give an idea of the art of 
such a master ; but then we are so affected by it, as with the 
perfect in every branch of art, that we cannot get rid of the 
wish to possess something in some way like it, to be able con- 
stantly to repeat the sight of it, however long a time may 
intervene. Why should I not anticipate and confess here,^ 
that afterwards I could not rest until I had succeeded in 
obtaining an excellent copy of this plate. 

On the 16th of July, 1775 (for here I find a date first set 
down), we entered upon a toilsome journey; wild stony 
heights were to be surmounted, and that, too, in a perfect 
solitude and wdlderness. At a quarter before eight in the 
evening, we stood before the Schwyzer-Haken, two mountain 
peaks which jut out boldly, side by side, into the sky. For 
the first time we found snow upon our path, where on the 
lagged rocks it had been hanging since the winter. A prim- 
eval forest, with its solemn awe, filled the immense vaUeys, 
into which we were about to descend. Refreshed, after a 
short rest, we sprang, with bold and light step, from cliff to 
cliff, from ledge to ledge, down the precipitous foot-path, and 
arrived by ten o'clock at Sch^^yz. We had become at once 
weary yet cheerful, exhausted yet excited; we eagerly 
quenched om* violent thirst, and felt ourselves still more- 
inspirecl. Imagine the young man who but two years before 
had written Werther, and his still younger friend w^ho still 
earlier had read that remarkable work in manuscript, and had 
been strangely excited by it, had transported in some respect 
without their knowing it or wishing it, into a state of nature, 
end there in the consciousness of rich powers, vividly recall- 



126 TRUTH AND POETEY; T-ROM my 0V7-N LIFE. 

in* past passions, clinging to those of the presenii, shaping 
fniitless plans, rioting through the realm of fancy, and you 
will be able to form some conception of our situation then, 
which I should not know hoAV to describe, if it did not stand 
written in my journal : " Laughing and shouting lasted until 
midnight." 

On the morning of the 1 7th, we saw the Schwyzer-Haken 
from our windows. Around these vast and irregular natural 
pyramids, clouds rose upon clouds. At one in the afternoon 
we left Schwyz, on our way to the Rigi ; at two we were on 
the Lowerzer lake, the sun shining brilliantly on it and on us 
ail the while. For sheer delight we saw nothing. Two stout 
maidens guided the boat ; that looked pretty, and we made 
no objection. We arrived upon the island, on which they say 
once lived the former lord of the castle ; be this as it may, 
the hut of the anchorite has now planted itself amidst the 
ruins. 

We climbed the Rigi ; at half-past seven we stood at the 
foot of the " Mother of God" covered in snow; then passed 
the chapel and the nunnery, and rested at the hotel of the 
Ox. 

On the 1 8th, Sunday morning early, we took a sketch of 
the chapel from the Ox. At twelve we went to Kaltenbad, or 
the fountain of the Three Sisters. By a quarter after two we 
had reached the summit ; we found ourselves in the clouds, 
this time doubly disagreeable to us, since they both hindered 
the prospect and drenched us with mist. But when, here and 
there, they opened and showed us, framed as it were by their 
ever-varying outline, a clear, majestic sun-lit world, wijth 
the changing scenes of a diorama, we no longer lamented 
these accidents ; for it was a sight we had never seen before 
and should never behold again, and we lingered long in this 
somewhat inconvenient position, to catch, through the chinks 
and crevices of the ever-shifting masses of cloud, some little 
point of sunny earth, some little strip of shore, or prettv nook 
of the lake. 

By eight in the evening we were back again at the door of 
the inn, and refreshed ourselves with baked fish and eggs, 
and plenty of wine. 

As the twilight and the night gradually came on, om* ears 
were filled with mysteriously harmonizing- sounds ; the twink- 



WILLIAM TELL. 127 

ling of the cliapel bells, the splashing of the fountain, the 
rustling of changeful breezes, with the horns of the foresters 
in the distance; — these were blest, soothing, tranquillising 
moments. 

At half-past six, on the morning of the 19th, first ascending 
then going down by the Waldstatter Lake we came to Fitz- 
nan ; from thence, by water, to Gersau. At noon, we were 
in the hotel on the lake. About two o'clock we were oppo- 
site to Griitli, where the three Tells conspired ; then upon the 
flat rock where the hero sprang from his boat, and where the 
legend of his life and deeds is recorded and immortalized 
by a painting. At three we were at Fluelen, where he em- 
barked ; and at four in Altorf, where he shot the apple. 

Aided by this poetic thread one winds conveniently through 
the labyrinth of these rocky waUs which, descending perpen- 
dicularly to the water, stand silently before us. They, the 
immovable, stand there as quietly as the side-scenes of a 
theatre ; success or failure, joy or sorrow, merely pertain to 
the persons who for the day successively strut upon the 
stage. 

Such reflections, however, were wholly out of the circle of 
the vision of the youths who then looked upon them ; what had 
recently passed had been dismissed from their thoughts, and 
the future lay before them as strangely inscrutable, as the 
mountain region which they were laboriously penetrating. 

On the 20th, we breakfasted at Amstag, where they cooked 
lis a savoury dinner of baked fish. Here now, on this moun- 
tain ledge, where the Reuss, which was at all times wild 
enough, was rushing from rugged clefts, and dashing the cool 
snow-water over the rocky channels, I could not help enjoy- 
ing the longed-for opportunity and refreshing myself in the 
foaming waves. 

At three o'clock we proceeded onwards ; a row of siynpter- 
horses went before us, we marched with them over a broad 
mass of snow, and did not learn till afterwards, that it was 
hollow miderneath. The snows of winter, that had depo- 
sited themselves here in a mountain gorge, which at other 
seasons it was necessary to skirt circuitously, now fui-nished 
us with a shorter and more direct road. But the waters which 
forced their way beneath had gradually undermined the snowy 
mass, and the mild summer had melted more and more of the 



128 TSUTIl AND POEETY; EltOM MY OWN I.Il'.i. 

lower side of the vanity so that now, like a broad archei 
bridge, it formed a natural connection between the opposite 
sides. We convinced ourselves of this strange freak of natm-ii 
by venturing more than half way down into the broader part 
of the gorge. As we kept ascending, we left pine forests in 
the chasm, through which the Reuss from time to time 
appeared, foaming and dashing over rocky precipices. 

At half-past seven we arrived at Wasen, where, to render 
palatable the red, heavy, sour Lombardy wine, we were 
forced to have recourse to water, and to supply, by a great 
deal of sugar, the ingredient which nature had refused to ela- 
borate in the grape. The landloi-d showed us some beautiful 
crystals ; but I had, at that time, so little interest in the study 
of nature and such specimens, that I did not care to burden 
myself with these mountain products, however cheaply they 
might be bought. 

On the 21st, at half-past six, we were still ascending; the 
rocks grew more and more stupendous and awful ; the path 
to the Teufelstein (Devil's Stone), from which we v^ere to gain 
a view of the Devil's Bridge, Avas still more difficult. My 
companion being disposed for a rest, proposed me to sketch 
the most important views. My outhnes were, perhaps, tole« 
rably successful, but nothing seemed to stand out, nothing to 
retire into the distance; for such objects I had no language. 
We toiled on further ; the horrors of the wilderness seemed 
continually to deepen, planes became hills, and hollows 
chasms. And so my guide conducted me to the cave oi 
Ursern, through which I walked in somewhat of an ill humor; 
what we had seen thus far was, at any rate, sublime, this 
darkness took everything away.. 

But the roguish guide anticipated the joyful astonishment 
which would overwhelm me on my egress. There the mode- 
rately :goaming stream wound mildly through a level vale sur- 
rounded by mountains, but wide enough to invite habitation. 
Above the clean little village of Ursern and its church, which, 
stood opposite to us on a level plot, rose a pine-grove which 
was held sacred, because it protected the inhabitants at its foot, 
from the rolling of the avalanches. Here we enjoyed the 
sight of long-missed vegetation. The meadows of the val- 
ley, just beginning to look green, were adorned along the 
river side with short willows The tranquillity was greo>t ; 



THE HOSPICE. 129 

upon the level paths we felt our powers revive again, and my 
feUow-traveller was not a little proud of the surprise which 
he had so skilfully contrived. 

The meadows produce the celebrated Ursern cheese, and 
the youthfid travellers, high in spirits, pronounced very 
tolerable wine not to be sm-passed in order to heighten their 
enjoyment, and to give a more fantastic impulse to their pro- 
jects. 

On the 22nd, at half-past three, we left our quarters, that 
from the smooth Ursern valley we might enter upon the stony 
valley of Liviner. Here, too, we at once missed all vegetation ; 
nothing was to be seen or heard but naked or mossy rocks 
covered with snow, fitful gusts blowing the clouds backwards 
and forwards, the rustling of waterfalls, the tinkling of sump- 
ter-horses in the depth of solitude, where we saw none coming 
and none departing. It did not cost the imagination much 
to see dragons' nests in the clefts. But, nevertheless, we felt 
inspired and elevated by one of the most beautiful and pic- 
turesque waterfalls, sublimely various in all its rocky steps, 
which, being at this time of the year enriched by melted 
snows, and now half hidden by the clouds, now half revealed, 
chained us for some time to the spot. 

Finally, we came to little mist-lakes, as I might call them, 
since they were scarcely to be distinguished from the atmo- 
spheric streaks. Before long, a building loomed towards us 
out of the vapour : it was the Hospice, and we felt great 
satisfaction at the thoughts of sheltering ourselves under its 
hospitable roof. 



Vol.. a. 



NmETEENTH BOOK. 



Announced by the low barking of a little dog which ran out 
to meet ns, we were cordially received at the door by an 
elderly but active female. She apologised for the absence 
of the Pater, who had gone to Milan, but was expected home 
that evening ; and immediately, without any more words, set 
to work to provide for our comfort and wants. We were 
shown into a warm and spacious room, where bread, cheese, 
and some passable wine were set before us, with the promise 
of a more substantial meal for our supper. The surprise of the 
day was now talked over, and my friend was not a little proud 
that all had gone off so well, and that we had passed a day 
the impressions of which neither poetry nor prose coidd ever 
reproduce. 

At length with the twihght, which did not here come on till 
late, the venerable father entered the room, greeted his guests 
with dignity but in a fi:iendly and cordial manner, and in a few 
words ordered the cook to pay all possible attention to our wishes. 
When we expressed the wonder we could not repress, that he 
could like to pass his life up here, in the midst of such a perfect 
wilderness, out of the reach of all society, he assured us that 
society was never wanting, as our own welcome visit might 
testify. A lively trade, he told us, was kept up between Italy 
and Germany. This continual traffic brought him into rela- 
tion with the first mercantile houses. He often went down to 
Milan, and also to Lucerne, though not so frequently, from 
which place, however, the houses which had charge of the 
posting on the main route, frequently sent young people to 
him, who, here at the point of passage between the two coun- 
tries, required to be made acquainted with all the circum- 
stances and events connected with such affairs. 

Amid such varied conversation the evening passed away, 
and we slept a quiet night on somewhat short sleeping- places, 
fastened to the wall, and more like shelves than bedsteads. 

Rising early, I soon found myself under the open sky, but 
in a narrow space sm-rounded by tall mountain-tops. I sat 
down upon the foot-path which led to Italy, and attempted. 



DISTANT VIEW OF ITALY ♦ 131 

after the maimer of dilettanti, to draw what coiiid not "be 
drawn, still less make a pictm-e, namely, the nearest momi- 
tain-tops, whose sides, with their white furrows and black 
ridges, were gradually made visible by the melting of the 
snow. Nevertheless, that fruitless effort has impressed the 
image indelibly on my memory. 

My companion stepped briskly up to me, and began : " What 
say you of the story of our spiritual host, last evening? Have 
not you as well as myself, felt a desire to descend from this 
dragon's height into those charming regions below? A ram- 
ble thi'ough these gorges must be glorious and not very toil - 
some ; and when it ends with Bellinzona, what a pleasure that 
must be ! The words of the good father have again brought 
a living image before my soul of the isles of the Lago Mag- 
giore. We have heard and seen so much of them since 
Keyssler's travels, that I cannot resist the temptation." 

" Is it not so with you too ? " he resumed; " you are sitting 
on exactly the right spot; I stood there once, but had not 
the courage to jump down. You can go on without cere- 
mony, wait for me at Airolo, I will follow with the courier 
when I have taken leave of the good father and settled every- 
thing." 

" Such an enterprise," I replied, "so suddenly imdertaken, 
does not suit me." "What's the use of deliberating so much ? " 
cried he ; " we have money enough to get to Milan, where we 
shall find credit; through our fair, I know more than one mer- 
cantile friend there." He grew still more m-gent. " Go ! " 
said I, " and make all ready for the departure, then we wiU 
decide." 

In such moments it seems to me as if a man feels no reso- 
lution in himself, but is rather governed and determined by 
earlier impressions. Lombardy and Italy lay before me, 
altogether foreign land; while Germany, as a well-known 
dear home, full of friendly, domestic scenes, and where, let me 
confess it, — was that which had so long entirely enchained 
me, and on which my existence was centred, remained even 
now the most indispensable element, beyond the limits of 
which I felt afraid to step. A little golden heart, which in 
my happiest hours, I had received from her, still hung love- 
warmed about my neck, suspended by the same ribbon tG 
which she had tied it. Snatching it from iny bosom, I loaded 

iL2 



132 TRUTH AND POETEY; FKOM MY OWN LIFE. 

it with kisses. This incident gave rise to a poem, which I 
here insert:— 

Round my neck, suspended, as a token 

Of those joys, that swiftly pass'd away, 

Art thou here that thou may'st lengthen love's short day. 

Still binding, when the bond of souls is broken? 

Lili, from thee I fly; yet I am doom'd to feel 

Thy fetters still. 

Though to strange vales and mountains I depart. 

Yes, Lili's heart must yet remain 

Attached to mi/ fond heart. 

Thus the bird, snapping his string in twain, 

Seeks his wood, — ^his own, 

Stili a mark of bondage bearing. 

Of tliat string a fragment wearing. 

The old— the free-bom bird — ^he cannot be again, 

When once a master he has known. 

Seeing my friend with the guide, who carried our knapsack, 
come storming up the heights, I rose hastily and removed 
from the precipice, where I had been watching his retm^n, 
lest he should drag me down into the abyss vdth him. I also 
saluted the pious father, and turned, without saying a word, 
to the path by which we had come. My friend followed me, 
somewhat hesitating, and in spite of his love and attachment 
to me, kept for a long time at a distance behind, till at last 
a glorious waterfall brought us again together for the rest of 
our journey, and what had been once decided, was from 
henceforth looked upon as the wisest and the best. 

Of our descent I will only remark that we now found the 
snow-bridge, over which we had securely travelled vdth a 
heavy-laden train a few days before, all fallen in, and that now, 
as we had to make a circuit round the opened thicket, we 
were filled with astonishment and admiration by the colossal 
fragments of that piece of natural architecture. 

My friend could not quite get over his disappointment at 
not returning into Italy; very likely he had thought of the 
plan some time before, and vdth amiable cunning had hoped 
to surprise me on the spot. On this account our return did 
not proceed so merrily as our advance ; but I was occupied all 



KUSjSTACHT — TELL. 133 

the more constantly on my silent route, with trying to fix, at 
least in its more comprehensible and characteristic details, 
that sense of the sublime and vast, which, as time advances, 
usually grows contracted in our minds. 

Not without many both new and renewed emotions and 
reflections did we pass over the remarkable heights about the 
Vierwaldstatter Lake, on our way to Kiissnacht, where hav- 
ing landed and pursued om- ramble, we had to greet Tell's 
chapel, which lay on our route, and to reflect upon that assas- 
sination which, in the eyes of the whole world, is so heroical, 
patriotic, and glorious. So, too, we sailed over the Zuger 
Lake, which we had seen in the distance as we looked down 
from Rigi. In Zug, I only remember some painted glass, 
inserted into the casement of a chamber of the inn, not large 
to be sui'e, but excellent in its way. Our route then led over 
the Albis into the Sihl valley, where, by visiting a young 
Hanoverian, Von Lindau, who delighted to live there in soli- 
tude, we sought to mitigate the vexation which he had felt 
some time before in Zurich, at our declining the ofier of his 
company not in the most friendly or polite manner. The 
jealous friendship of the worthy Passavant was really the 
reason of my rejecting the truly dear, but inconvenient presence 
of another. 

But before we descend again from these glorious heights, 
to the lake and to the pleasantly situated city, I must make 
one more remark upon my attempts to carry away some idea, 
of the country by drawing and sketching, A habit from 
youth upward of viewing a landscape as a picture, led me, 
whenever I observed any picturesque spot in the natural 
scenery, to try and fix it, and so to preserve a sure memorial 
of such moments. But having hitherto only exercised- myself 
on confined scenes, I soon felt the incompetency of my art for 
such a world. 

The haste I was in at once compelled me to have recom-se 
to a singular expedient : scarcely had I noticed an interesting 
object, and with light and very sketchy strokes drawn the 
outlines on the paper, than I noted down, in words, the par- 
ticular objects which I had no time to catch and fill up with 
the pencil, and, by this means, made the scenes so thoroughly 
present to my mind, that every locality, whenever I afterward 
wanted it for a poem or a story, floated at once before me and 
was entirely at my command. 



134 TRUTH AND POETKY: PEOM my 0WI7 LIF2. 

On returning to Zuricli, I found the Stolbergs were gone; 
tneir stay in this city had been cut short in a singular 
manner. 

It must be confessed that travellers upon removing to a 
distance from the restraints of home, are only too apt to think 
they are stepping not only into an unknown, but into a per- 
fectly free world ; a delusion which it was the more easy to 
indulge in at this time, as there was not as yet any passports 
to be examined by the police, or any tolls and such like checks 
and hindrances on the liberty of travellers, to remind men 
that abroad they are subject to still worse and more painful 
restraints than at hom^. 

If the reader will only bear in mind this decided tendency 
to realize the freedom of nature, he will be able to pardon the 
young spirits who regarded Switzerland as the very place 
in which to " Idyllize " the fresh independence of youth. 
The tender poems of Gessner, as well as his charming sketches, 
seemed decidedly to justify this expectation. 

In fact, bathing in wide waters seems to be one of the best 
qualifications for expressing such poetic talents. Upon our 
journey thus far, such natural exercises had not seemed 
exactly suitable to modern customs, and we had, in some 
degree, abstained from them. But, in Switzerland, the sight 
of the cool stream, — ^flowing, running, rushing, then gather- 
ing on the plain, and gradually spreading out to a lake, — - 
presented a temptation that was not to be resisted. I can 
not deny that I joined my companions in bathing in the clear 
lake, but we chose a spot far enough, as we supposed, from 
all human eyes. But naked bodies shine a good way, and 
whoever chanced to see us doubtless took ofience. 

The good innocent youths who thought it nowise shocking 
to see themselves half naked, like poetic shepherds, or entirely 
naked, like heathen deities, were admonished by their 
friends to leave off all such practices. They were given to 
understand that they were living not in primeval nature, but 
in a land where it was esteemed good and salutary to adhere 
to th3 old institutions and customs which had been handed 
down from the middle ages. They were not disinclined to 
aclmowledge the propriety of all this, especially as the appeal 
was made to the middle ages, which, to them, seemed vener- 
able as a second nature. Accordingly, they left the more 



ANECDOTE OF THE STOLBERGS. 135 

public lake shores, but when in their walks through the 
mountains, they fell in with the clear, rustling, refreshing 
streams, it seemed to them impossible, in the middle of July, 
to abstain from the refreshing exercise. Thus, on their Avide 
sweeping walks, they came also to the shady vale, where the 
Sihl, streaming behind the Albis, shoots down to empty itself 
into the Limmat below Zurich. Far from every habitation, 
and even from all trodden foot-paths, they thought there could 
be no objection here to their throwing off their clothes and 
boldly meeting the foaming waves. This was not indeed 
done without a shriek, Mathout a wild shout of joy, excited 
partly by the chiU. and partly by the satisfaction, by which 
they thought to consecrate these gloomy, wooded rocks into 
an IdyUic scene. 

But, whether persons previously iU-disposed had crept after 
them, or whether this poetic tumult called forth adversaries 
even in the solitude, cannot be determined. Suffice it to say, 
stone after stone was thrown at them fr'om the motionless 
bushes above, whether by one or more, whether accidentally 
or purposely, they could not tell; however, they thought it 
wisest to renounce the quickening element and look after 
their clothes. 

No one got hit; they sustained no injury but the moral one 
of surprise and chagrin, and full of young life as they were, 
they easily shook off the recollection of this awkward affair. 

But the most disagreeable consequences fell upon Lavater, 
who was blamed for having given so friendly a welcome to 
such saucy youths, as even to have arranged walks with them, 
and otherwise to shew attention to persons whose wild, un- 
bridled, unchristian, and even heathenish habits, had caused 
so much scandal to a moral and well-regulated neighbour- 
hood. 

Our clever friend, however, who well knew how to smooth 
over such unpleasant occurrences, contrived to hush up this 
one also, and after the departure of these meteoric travellers, 
we found, on om' return, peace and quiet restored. 

In the fragment of Werther's travels, which has lately been 
reprinted in the sixteenth volume of my works, I have 
attempted to describe this contrast of the commendable order 
and legal restraint of Switzerland, with that life of nature 
which youth in its delusions so loudly demands. But, as 



136 TKUTH AND POETHY ; TKOM MY OWN LIFE. 

people generally are apt to take all that the poet advances 
without reserve for his decided opinions, or even didactic 
censiu^e, so the Swiss were very much offended at the com- 
parison, and I, therefore, dropped the intended continuation, 
which was to have represented, more or less in detail, Wer- 
ther's progress up to the epoch of his sorrows, and which, 
therefore, would certainly have been interesting to those who 
wish to study mankind. 

Arrived at Zurich, I devoted my time almost exclusively 
to Lavater, whose hospitality I again made use of. The Phy- 
siognomy, with all its portraits and monstrous caricatures, 
weighed heavily and with an ever-increasing load on the 
shoulders of the worthy man. We arranged all as well as we 
could under the circumstances, and I promised him, on my 
return home, to continue my assistance. 

I was led to give this promise by a certain youthful un- 
limited confidence in my own quicknessof comprehension, and 
still more by a feeling of my readiness of adaptation to any 
subject ; for, in truth, the way in which Lavater dissected phy- 
siognomies was not at all in my vein. The impression which at 
our first meeting, he had made upon me, determined, in some 
degree, my relation to him; although a general wish to oblige 
which was always strong, joined to the light-heartedness of 
youth, had a great share in all my actions by causing me 
to see things in a certain twilight atmosphere. 

Lavater' s mind was altogether an imposing one; in his 
society it was impossible to resist his decided influence, and I 
had no choice but to submit to it at once and set to work ob- 
serving foreheads and noses, eyes and mouths, in detail, and 
weighing their relations and proportions. My fellow observer 
did this from necessity, as he had to give a perfect account of 
what he himself had discerned so clearly ; but to me it always 
seemed like a trick, a piece of espionage, to attempt to ana- 
lyse a man into his elements before his face, and so to get 
upon the track of his hidden moral peculiarities. I had more 
pleasure in listening to his conversation, in which he unveiled 
himself at will. And yet, I must confess, I always felt a 
degree of constramt in Lavater' s presence ; for, while by his 
art of physiognomy, he possessed himself of our peculiarities, 
he also made himself, by conversation, master of our thoughts, 
which, v,dth a little sagacity, he would easily guess from our 
variety of phrases. 



LAYATEE HIS CHAKACTEB AND WOKIvS. 137 

He wlio feels a pregnant synthesis in himself, has pecu- 
liarly a right to analyse, since by the outward particulars he 
tests and legitimizes his inward whole. How Lavater ma- 
naged in such cases, a single example will suffice to show. 

On Sundays, after the sermon, it was his duty, as an eccle- 
siastic, to hold the short- handled, velvet, alms-bag before each 
one who went out, and to bless as he received the pious gift.. 
Now, on a certain Sunday he proposed to himself, without 
looking at the several persons as they dropped in their offer- 
ings, to observe only their hands, and by them, silently, to 
judge of the forms of their owner. Not only the shape of the 
finger, but its peculiar action in dropping the gift, was atten- 
tively noted by him, and he had maich to communicate to me 
on the conclusions he had formed. How instructive and 
exciting must such conversations have been to one, who also 
was seeking to qualify himself for a painter of men ! 

Often in my after life had I occasion to think of Lavater, 
who was one of the best and worthiest men that I ever formed 
so intimate a relation with. These notices of him that I have 
introduced in this work were accordingly written at various 
times. Following our divergent tendencies, we gradually 
became strangers to each other, and yet I never could bring 
myself to part vrith the - favorable idea which his worth had 
left upon my mind. In thought I often brought him before 
me, and thus arose these leaves, which, as they were writ- 
ten without reference to and independently of each other, 
may contain some repetitions, but, it is hoped, no contra- 
dictions. 



By his cast of mind, Lavater was a decided reaKst, and 
knew of nothing ideal except in a moral form ; by keeping 
this remark steadily in mind, you will most readily under- 
stand this rare and singular man. 

His Prospects of Eternity look merely for a continuance of 
the present state of existence, under easier conditions than 
those which we have now to endure. His Physiognomy rests 
on the conviction that the sensible corresponds throughout 
vrith the spiritual, and is not only an evidence of it, but 
indeed its representative. 

The ideals of art found little favor with him, because with 



138 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

liis sharp look he saw too clearly the impossibility of such 
conceptions ever being embodied in a living organization, and 
he therefore banished them into the realm of fable, and even 
of monstrosity. 

His incessant demand for a realization of the ideal gained 
him the reputation of a visionary, although he maintained and 
felt convinced that no man insisted more strongly on the 
actual than he did; accordingly, he never could detect the 
error in his mode of thinking and acting. 

Seldom has there been a man who strove more passionately 
than he did for public recognition, and thus he was particu- 
larly fitted for a teacher; but if all his labors tended to the 
intellectual and moral improvement of others, this was by no 
means their ultimate aim. 

To realize the character of Christ was what he had most at 
heart ; hence that almost insane zeal of his to have pictures 
of Christ drawn, copied, moulded, one after another ; none of 
which, however, as to be expected, ever satisfied him. 

His writings are hard to understand, even now, for it is far 
from easy to penetrate into his precise meaning. No one 
ever wrote so much of the times, and for the times, as Lava- 
ter ; his writings are veritable journals, which in an especial 
manner require to be explained by the history of the day; 
they, moreover, are written in the language of a coterie, 
which one must fii'st acquaint oneself with, before we can 
hold communion with them, otherwise many things will 
appear stupid and absurd even to the most intelligent reader. 
Indeed, objections enough of the kind have been made against 
this author, both in his lifetime and since. 

Thus, for example, with our rage for dramatizing and repre- 
senting under this form all that struck us, and caring for 
no other, we once so warmed his brain with a dramatic 
ardour, that, in his Pontius Pilate, he labored very hard to 
show that there is no more dramatic work than the Bible; 
and, especially, that the history of Christ's Passion must be 
regarded as the drama of all dramas. 

In this chapter, and indeed throughout the work, Lavater 
appears greatly to resemble Father Abraham of Santa Clara ; 
for into this manner everj'- richly gifted mind necessarily falls 
who wishes to work upon his contemporaries. He must 
acquaint himself v,^ith existing tendencies and passions, with 



LAVATES HIS CHAHACTEK AND WOUEIS. 13^ 

the speech and terminology of the day, and adapt them to 
nis ends, in order to approach the mass vyhoni he seeks to 
influence. 



Since Lavater took Chi^ist literally, — as described by the 
Scriptures, and by most commentators, — he let this represen- 
tation serve so far for the supplement of his own being, that 
he ideally incorporated the God-man into his own individual 
humanity, until he finally was able to imagine himself melted 
into one and united with him, and, indeed, to have become 
the same person. 

This decidedly literal faith had also worked in him a per- 
fect conviction that miracles can be wrought to-day as well 
as heretofore. Accordingly, since in scxne important and 
trj'ing emergencies of his earlier days, he had by means of 
earnest and indeed violent prayer, succeeded in procuring an 
instantaneous and favorable turn of the impending calamity, 
no mere cold objections of the reasoning intellect would make 
him for a moment waver in this faith. Penetrated, more- 
over, by the idea of the greatness and excellence of Humanity 
as restored by Christ, and through Him destined to a blissful 
immortahty, but, at the same time, fully sensible of the mani- 
fold requisitions of man's heart and mind, and of his insatiable 
yearnings after knowledge, and, moreover, feeling in himself 
that desire of expanding himself into the infinite to which the 
starry heavens seem so sensibly to invite us, he wirote under 
these feelings his ^^ Prospects of Eternity ^^ which must have 
appeared a very strange book indeed to the greater part of 
his contemporaries. 

All this striving, however, all wishes, all undertakings, 
were overborne by the genius for physiognomy, which nature 
had bestowed upon hun. For, as the touchstone, by its 
blackness and peculiar roughness of sui-face, is eminently 
fitted to distinguish between the metals which are applied to 
it; so that pure idea of humanity, which Lavater carried 
within himself, and that sharp yet delicate gift of observation, 
which at first he exercised from natural impulse occasionally 
only and accidentally, but afterwards with deliberate reflection 
and regularly, qualified him in the highest degree to note the 
peculiarities of individual men, and to understand,. distinguish, 
and express them. 



140 TRUTH AND POETPtY; FHOM MY OWN LIFE. 

Every talent which rests on a decided natural gift, seems 
from our inability to subordinate either it or its operations to 
any idea to have something of magic about it. And, in truth, 
Lavater's insight into the characters of individuals surpassed 
all conception ; one was utterly amazed at his remarks, when 
in confidence we were talking of this or that person ; nay, it 
was frightftd to live near a man who clearly discerned the 
nicest limits by which nature. had been pleased to modify and 
distinguish our various personalities. 

Every one is apt to believe that what he possesses himself 
may be communicated to others; and so Lavater was not 
content to make use of this great gift for himself alone, but 
insisted that it might be found and called forth in others, nay 
that it might even be imparted to the great mass. The many 
dull and malicious misinterpretations, the stupid jests in 
abundance, and detracting railleries, this striking doctrine 
gave rise to, may still be remembered by some men; how- 
ever, it must be owned that the worthy man himself was not 
altogether without blame in the matter. For though a high 
moral sense preserved the unity of his inner being, yet, with 
his manifold labors, he was unable to attain to outward unity, 
since he did not possess the slightest capacity for philo- 
sophical method, nor for artistic talent. 

' He was neither Thinker nor Poet; indeed, not even an 
orator, in the proper sense of the term. Utterly unable to 
take a comprehensive and methodical view, he nevertheless 
formed an unerring judgment of individual cases and these he 
noted down boldly side by side. His great work on Phy- 
siognomy is a striking proof and illustration of this. In him- 
self, the idea of the moral or of the sensual man might form a 
whole; but out of himself he could not represent this idea, 
except practically by individual cases, in the same way as he 
himself had apprehended them in life. 

That very work sadly shows us how in the commonest 
matter of experience so sharp-sighted a man, may go groping 
about him. For after spending an immense sum and employ- 
ing every artist and botcher living, he procured at last draw- 
ings and engravings, which were so far mthout character, 
that he is obliged in his work to say after each one that it is 
more or less a failure, unmeaning and worthless. True, by 
this means, he sharpened his own judgment, and the judg^ 



ABUSE OF THE TEEM GENIUS. 141 

ment of others ; but it also proves that his mental bias led 
him i-ather to heap up cases of experience, than to draAv from 
them any clear and sober principle. For this reason he never 
could come to results, though I often pressed him for them. 
What in later life he confided as such to his friends, were 
none to me ; for they consisted of nothing more than a col- 
lection of certain lines and features, nay, warts^ and freckles, 
with which he had seen certain moral, and frequently im- 
moral, peculiarities associated. There were certainly some 
remarks among them that surprised and riveted your atten- 
tion; but they formed no series, one thing followed another 
accidentally, there was no gradual advance towards any 
general deductions and no reference to any principles pre- 
viously established. And indeed there was just as little of 
literary method or artistic feeling to be found in his other 
writings, which invariably contained passionate and earnest 
expositions of his thoughts and objects, and supplied by the 
most afiecting and appropriate instances, what they could 
not accomplish by the general conception. 

The following reflections, as they refer to those circum- 
stances, may be aptly introduced here. 

No one willingly concedes superiority to another, so long as 
he can in any way deny it. Natural gifts of every kind can 
the least be denied, and yet by the common mode of speaking 
in those times, genius was ascribed to the poet alone. But 
another world seemed all at once to rise up; genius was 
looked for in the physician, in the general, in the statesman, 
and before long, in all men, who thought to make themselves 
eminent either in theory or practice. Zimmerman, especially, 
had advanced these claims. Lavater, by his views of Phy- 
siognomy, was compelled to assume a more general distribu- 
tion of mental gifts by nature ; the word genius became a 
imiversal symbol, and because men heard it uttered so often, 
they thought that what was meant by it, was habitually at 
hand. But then, since every one felt himself justified in 
demanding genius of others, he finally believed that he also 
must possess it himself. The time was yet far distant when 
it could be affirmed, that genius is that power of man which 
by its deeds and actions gives laws and rules. At this time 
it was thought to manifest itself only, by overstepping exist- 



14ii TRUTH A^'D poetry; FROM MY OAVN LIFE. 

ing laws, breaking established rules, and declaring itself above 
all restraint. It was, therefore, an easy thing to be a genius, 
and nothing was more natural than that extravagance both of 
word and deed should provoke all orderly men to oppose 
themselves to such a monster. 

When anybody rushed into the world on foot, without 
exactly knowing why or whither, it was called a pass of 
genius; and w^hen any one undertook an aimless and use- 
less absurdity, it was a strode of genius. Young men, of viva- 
cious and true talents, too often lost themselves in the limit- 
less ; and then older men of understanding, wanting perhaps 
in talent and in soul, found a most malicious gratification in 
exposing to the public gaze, their manifold and ludicrous 
miscarriages. 

For my part, in the development and the expression of my 
own ideas, I perhaps experienced far more hindi-ance and 
checks from the false co-operation and interference of the 
like-minded, than by the opposition of those whose turn of 
mind was directly contrary to my own. 

With a strange rapidity, Avords, epithets, and plirases, 
which have once been cleverly employed to disparage the 
highest intellectual gifts, spread by a sort of mechanical repe- 
tition among the multitude, and in a short time they are to 
be heard evcrpvhere, even in common life, and in the mouths 
of the most uneducated ; indeed before long they even creep 
into dictionaries. In this way the word genius had suffered 
so much from misrepresentation, that it was almost desired 
to banish it entirely from the Gemian language. 

And so the Gennans, with whom the common voice is more 
apt to prevail than with other natioDS, would perhaps have 
sacrificed the fairest flower of speech, the word which, though 
apparently foreign, really belongs to every people, had not 
the sense for what is highest and best in man, been happily 
restored and solidly established by a profoimder philosophy. 



In the preceding pages mention has been frequently made 
of the youthful times of two men, whose memory will never 
fade from the history of German literature and morals. At 
this period, however, we came to know them as it were only 
by the errors into which they were misled by a false maxim 
which prevailed among their youthful contemporaries. No- 



lAYATEB'S SKETCH OT THE STOLBEEGS. 143 

thiiig' therefore, can be more proper than with due apprecia- 
tion and respect to paint their natnral form, their peculiar 
individuality, just as it appeared at that time, and as their 
iuunediate presence exhibited itself to the penetrating eye 
of Lavater. Consequently, since the heavy and expensive 
volumes of the great work on Physiognomy are probably 
accessible to a few only of our readers, I have no scruple in 
inserting here the remarkable passages of that work, which 
refer to both the Stolbergs, in the second part and its thirtieth 
fragment, page 224 : 

" The young men, whose portraits and profiles we have 
here before us, are the fii'st men who ever sat and stood to 
me for physiognomical description, as another would sit to a 
painter for his portrait. 

" I knew them before, the noble ones — and I made the 
first attempt, in accordance with natm-e and with all my pre- 
v-ious knowledge, to observe and to describe their chai'actej'. 

" Here is the description of the whole man. — 

FIKST, or THE YOUNGER. 

•' See the blooming youth of 25 ! the lightly-floating, buoy- 
ant, elastic creature! it does not lie; it does not stand; it 
does not lean ; it docs not fly ; it floats or swims. Too full of 
life, to rest; too supple to stand firm ; too heavy and too weak, 
to fly. 

" A floating thing, then, which does not touch the earth ! In 
its whole contour not a single slack line ; but on the other hand 
no straight one, no tense one, none firmly arched or stiffly 
curved ; no sharp entering angles, no rock-like projection of the 
brow; no hardness; no stiffness; no defiant roughness; no 
threatening insolence; no iron will — all is elastic, winning, 
but nothing iron; no stedfast and searching profundity; no 
slow reflection, or prudent thoughtfiilncss; nowhere the rea- 
soner with the scales held firmly in the one hand, and the 
sword in the other; and yet not the least formality in look or 
judgment! but still the most perfect straight-forwardness of 
intellect, or rather the most immaculate sentiment of truth ! 
Always the inward feeler, never the deep thinker; never the 
discoverer, the testing unfoldcr of truth so quickly seen, so 
quickly known, so quickly loved, and quickly gnisped. . , 

Perpetual soarer, a seer; idealizcr; beautifier; — tliat gives a 



144 TSITTH AND POETUT ; FKOM MY OWN LIFE. 

sliape and form to all his ideas ! Ever the half-intoxicatedi 
poet, seeing only what he will see ; — ^not the sorrowfuUj Ian.;; 
guishing; not the sternly crushing; but the lofty, noble 
powerful! who with 'thii-st for the sun' {Sonnendurst), hovers 
to and fro in the regions of air, strives aloft, and again--, ^ 
sinJcs not to earth! but throws himself headlong to earthy' 
bather in the floods of the ' Rock-stream' {Felsenstrom), waS 
cradles himself * in the thunder of the echoing rocks aroundV? 
{Im Donner der hallenden Felsen umher). His glance — ^notj 
the fire-glance of the eagle! His brow and nose — not th^^ 
courage of the lion! his breast — not the stedfastness of the^ 
steed that neighs for battle ! In the whole, however, there isl 
much of the tearing activity of the elephant .... 

" The projecting upper lip slightly drawn up towards the 
over-hanging nose, which is neither sharply cut, nor angulaxj 
evinces, with such a closing of the mouth, much taste and 
sensibility; while the lower part of the face bespeaks muchi 
sensuality, indolence, and thoughtlessness. The whole outline^ 
of the profile shows openness, honesty, humanity, but at the^ 
same time a liability to be led astray, and a high degree of 
that good-hearted indiscretion, which injures no one but him- 
self. The middle line of the mouth bespeaks in its repose, 
a downright, planless, weak, good-natured disposition; when 
in motion, a tender, finely-feeling, exceedingly susceptible, 
benevolent, noble man. In the arch of the eyelids, and in 
the glance of the eyes, there sits not Homer, but the deepest, 
most thorough, and most quick feeling, and comprehension of 
Homer; not the epic, but the lyric poet; genius, which fuses, 
moulds, creates, glorifies, hovers, transforms all into a heroic 
form — which deifies all. The half-closed eyelids, firom such 
an arch, indicate the keenly sensitive poet, rather than the 
slowly laboring artist, who creates after apian; the whimsical 
rather than the severe. The full face of the youth is much 
more taking and attractive, than the somewhat too loose, too 
protracted half-face; the fore-part of the face in its slight- 
est motion, tells of a highly sensitive, thoughtful, inventive, 
untaught, inward goodness, of a softly tremulous, wrong- 
abhorring love of liberty — an eager vivacity. It cannot con- 
ceal fi'om the commonest observer the slightest impression 
w^hich it receives for the moment, or adopts for ever Every 
object, which nearly concerns or interests him, drives the 



LAVATER'S SKETCH OF THE STOLBEKGS, 145 

blood into the cheeks and nose; where honor is concerned, 
the most maidenly blush of shame spreads like lightning over 
the delicately sensitive skin. 

" The complexion is not the pale one of aU-creating, aU-con- 
suining genius ; not the wildly glowing one of the contemp- 
tuous destroyer; not the milk-white one of the blond; not 
the olive one of th.e strong and hardy ; not the brownish one 
of the slowly plodding peasant; but the white, the red, and 
the violet, running one into another, and so expressively, and 
so happily, blended together like the strength and weakness 
of the whole character. The soul of the whole and of each 
sin°"le feature is freedom, and elastic activity, which springs 
forth easily and is as easily repulsed. The whole fore-face and 
the way the head is carried, promise magnanimity and upright 
cheerfuhiess . Incorruptible sensibility, deHcacy of taste , purity 
of mind, goodness and nobleness of soul, active power, a feel- 
ing of strength and of weakness, shine out so transparently 
through the whole face, that what were otherwise a lively 
self-complacency dissolves itself into a noble modesty, and 
most artlessly and unconstrainedly the natural pride and vanity 
of youth melt with the loveliness of twilight into the easy 
majesty of the whole man. The whitish hair, the length and 
awkwardness of form, the softness and lightness of step, the 
hesitating gait, the flatness of the breast, the fair unfurrowed 
brow, and various other features spread over the whole man a 
certain feminine air, by which the inward quickness of action 
is moderated, and every intentional offence and every mean- 
ness made for ever impossible to the heart ; but at the same 
time clearly evincing that the spirited and fiery poet, with all 
his unaffected thirst for freedom and for emancipation, is 
neither destined to be a man of business, thoroughly persist- 
ent, who steadily and resolutely carries out his plans, or to 
become immortal in the bloody strife. And now, in conclu- 
sion, I remark, for the first time, that I have as yet said 
nothing of the most striking trait — the noble simplicity, free 
firom all affectation ! Nothing of his childlike openness of heart! 
Nothing of the entire unconsciousness of his outward nobility ! 
Nothing of the inexpressible honhommie with which he accepts 
and bears reproaches or warnings, nay, even accusations and 
^Tongfiil charges. 

" But who can find an end, who will undertake to tell all 

L 



146 TRUTH AND POETEY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

that he sees or feels in a good man, in whom there is so muti 
pure himianity?" 

DESCRIPTION OF THE ELDER STOLBERG. 

" What I have said of the younger brother — ^how much of J 
it may be said also of the elder ! The principal thing I have ] 
to remark is the following : — 

" This figure and this character are more compact and less] 
diffiise than the former. There all was longer or flatter; hei^l 
all is shorter, broader, more arched, and rounded; there a^j 
was vague; here everything is more precise and sharpW' 
defined. So the brow; so the nose; so the breast: more 
compressed, more active, less diffuse, more of concen- 
trated life and power! For the rest, the same amiableness 
and honhommie ! Not that striking openness, rather more of 
reserve, but in principle, or rather in deed, the same honora- 
ble tone. The same invincible abhorrence of injustice and 
baseness; the same irreconcilable hatred of all that is called 
cunning and trickery; the same unyielding opposition to 
tyranny and despotism; the same pure, incorruptible sensi- 
bility to all that is noble, and great, and good; the same 
need of Mendship and of fi:eedom, the same sensitiveness and 
noble thirst for glory; the same catholicity of heart for all 
good, wise, sincere, and energetic men, renowned or unre- 
nowned, known or misunderstood, — and the same light-hearted 
inconsiderateness. No! not exactly the same. The face is 
sharper, more contracted, firmer; has more inward, self- 
developing capacity for business and practical counsels ; more 
of enterprising spirit — ^which is shown especially by the 
strongly prominent and ftdly rounded bones of the eye- 
sockets. Not the aU-blending, rich, pure, lofty poet's feeling 
— not the ease and rapidity of the productive power which 
marks the other — ^but yet he is, and that in profounder depths, 
vivacious, upright, ardent. Not the airy genius of Hght float- 
ing away in the morning red of heaven, and fashioning huge 
shapes therein — ^but more of inward power, though perhaps less 
of expression ! more powerful and terrible — ^less of elegance 
and finish; though his pencil nevertheless wants neither 
coloring nor enchantment. More wit and riotous humor; 
droll satire; brow, nose, look — all so downward, so over- 
hanging — decidedly what it should be for original and aU- 



MY MEETING AGAIN WITH LILI. 147 

enlivening wit, which does not gather from without, but 
brings forth from within. Above all in this character every 
trait more prominent, more angular, more aggressive, more 
Etorming! No passive dullness, no relaxation, except in the 
sunken eyes, where, as well as in the brow and nose, pleasure 
evidently sits. In all besides — and even in this very brow, 
this concentration of all — in this look indeed — there is an unmis- 
takable expression of natural, imacquired greatness ; strength, 
impetuosity of manliness; constancy, simplicity, precision!" 

After having in Darmstadt conceded to Merck the justice of 
his opinions and allowed him to triumph, in his having predicted 
my speedy separation from these gay companions, I found 
myself again in Frankfort, well received by every one,, 
inqjluding my father, although the latter could not conceal his 
disappointment that I had not descended by the pass to Airolo, 
and announced to him from Milan my arrival in Italy. All 
this was expressed by his silence rather than his words ; but 
above aU he did not show the slightest sympathy with those 
wild rocks, those lakes of mist, and dragons' nests. 

At last, however, by an incidental remark, by no means 
intended for a reproach, he gave me to understand how little 
aU such sights were worth : he who has not seen Naples, he 
observed, has lived to no end. 

On my return I did not, I could not, avoid seeing Lili ; the 
position we maintained towards each other was tender and 
considerate. I was informed that they had fully convinced 
her in my absence, that she must break off her intimacy with 
me, and that this was the more necessary and indeed more 
practicable, since by my journey and voluntary absence, I had 
given a sufficiently clear intimation of my own intentions. 
Nevertheless, the same localities in town and country, the same 
friends, confidentially acquainted with aU the past, could 
scarcely be seen without emotion by either of us — still and 
for ever lovers, although drawn apart in a mysterious way. 
It was an accursed state, vv^hich in a certain sense resembled 
Hades, or the meeting of the happy with the unhappy 
dead. 

There were moments when departed days seemed to revive, 
but instantly vanished again, like ghosts. 

Some kind people had told me in confidence, that Lili, 

Li 



148 TRTTTIT AND POETKY; FROM MY OWN" LIFE. 

when all the oDstacles to our union were laid before her, had 
declared that for my love she was ready to renounce aU pre- 
sent ties and advantages, and to go with me to America. 
America was then perhaps, still more than now, the Eldorado 
of all who found themselves crossed in the wishes of the 
moment. 

But the very thing which should have animated my hopes, 
only depressed them the more. My handsome paternal house, 
only a few hundi-ed steps from hers, offered certainly a more 
tolerable and more attractive habitation than an uncertain and 
remote locality beyond the ocean; stiR I do not deny, that in 
her presence all hopes, all wishes sprang to life again, and 
irresolution was stirring within me. 

True, the injunctions of my sister were very peremptory and 
precise ; not only had she, with all the shrewd penetratio|i of 
which she was mistress, explained the situation of things to 
me, but she had also, with painfully cogent letters, harped 
upon the same text still more powerfully. *' It were very 
well," said she, " if you could not help it, then you would 
have to put up with it ; such things one must suffer but not 
choosey Some months passed away in this most miserable of 
all conditions ; every circumstance had conspired against the 
union ; in her alone I felt, I knew, lay the power v/hich 
could have overcome every difficulty. 

Both the lovers, conscious of their position, avoided all soli- 
tary interviews ; but, in company, they could not help meet- 
ing in the usual formal way. It was now that the strongest 
trial was to be gone through, as every noble and feeling soul 
will acknowledge, when I have explained myself more fully. 

It is generally allowed, that in a new acquaintance, in the 
formation of a new attachment, the lover gladly draws a veil 
over the past. Growing affection troubles itself about no 
antecedents, and as it springs up like genius with the rapidity 
of lightning, it knows nothmg either of past or future. It is 
true, my closer intimacy with Lili had begun by her telling 
me the story of her early youth : how, from a child up, 
she had excited in many both a liking and devotion to herself, 
especially in strangers visiting her father's gay and lively 
house, and how she had found her pleasure in all this, though 
it had been attended with no further consequences and hk^ 
lead to no peiinanent tie. 



LILI'S OLD LOVERS. 149 

True, lovers consider all that they have felt before only as 
preparation for their present bliss, only as the foundation on 
which the structure of their future life is to be reared. Past 
attachments seem like spectres of the night, which ghde 
away before the break of day. 

But what occurred ! The fair came on, and with it appeared 
the whole swarm of those spectres in their reality; all the 
mercantile friends of the eminent house came one by one, and 
it was soon manifest that not a man among them was willing 
or able wholly to give up a certain claim to the lovely 
daughter. The younger ones, without being olitrusi\e, still 
seemed to claim the rights of familiar friends ; the middle- 
aged, with a certain obliging dignity, like those who seek to 
make themselves beloved, and who in all probability might 
come forward with higher claims. There were fine men 
among them, with the additional recommendation of a sub- 
stantial fortune. 

The older gentlemen, with their uncle s ways and manners, 
were altogether intolerable ; they could not bridle their hands, 
and in the midst of their disagreeable twaddle would demand 
a kiss, for which the cheek was not refused. It was so natural 
to her, gracefully to satisfy every one. The conversation, too, 
excited many a painful remembrance. Allusion was constantly 
made to pleasure parties by water and by land, to perils of all 
kinds with their happy escapes, to balls and evening prome- 
nades, to the amusement afforded by ridiculous wooers, and 
to whatever could excite an uncomfortable jealousy in the 
heart of an inconsolable lover, who had, as it were, foi a long 
time dra^vn to himself the sum of so many years. But amid 
aU this crowd and gaiety, she did not push aside her friend, 
and when she turned to him, she contrived, in a few words, 
to express all the tenderness which seemed allowable to their 
present po-sition. 

But let us turn from this torture, of which the memory even 
is almost intolerable, to poesy, which afforded, at least, an 
intellectual and heartfelt alleviation of my sufferings. 

" Lili's Menagerie" belongs somewhere to this period; 1 
do not adduce the poem here, because it does not reveal the 
softer sentiment, but seeks only, with genial earnestness, to 
exaggerate the disagreeable, and by comical, and provoking 
images, to change renunciation into despair. 



150 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

The following song expresses rather the sweeter side of that 
misery, and on that account is here inserted : 

Sweetest roses, ye are drooping, 

By my love ye were not worn ; 
Bloom for one, who past all hoping, 

Feels his soul by sorrow torn. 

Oh, the days still live in thought, love, 
When to thee, my angel, bound ; 

I my garden early sought, love. 

And for thee the young buds found. 

All the flowers and fruits I bore thee. 

And I cast them at thy feet; 
As I proudly stood before thee, 

Then my heart with hope would beat 1 

Sweetest roses, ye are drooping. 

By my love ye were not worn ; 
Bloom for one, who past all hoping, 

Feels his soul by sorrow torn. 

The opera of ''^Envin and Elvira''^ was suggested by the 
pretty little romaunt or ballad introduced by Goldsmith in his 
" Vicai' of WaJceJield,'' which had given us so much pleasure 
in our happiest days, when we nevei- dreamed that a similar 
fate awaited us. 

I have already intro'duced some of the poetical productions 
of this epoch, and I only wish they had all been preserved, 
A never failing excitement in the happy season of love, 
heightened by the beginning of care, gave birth to songs, 
which throughout expressed no overstrained emotion, but 
always the sincere feeling of the moment. From social songs 
for festivals, down to the most trifling of presentation- verses 
— all was living and real and what a refined company had 
sympathized in; first glad, then sorrowful, till finally there 
was no height of bb'ss, no depth of woe, to which a strain was 
not devoted. 

All these internal feelings and outward doings, so far as 
they were likely to vex and pain my father, were by my 
mother's bustling prudence skilfully kept from him. Although 
his hope of seeing me lead into his house, that first one (who 



PLAN OF EGMONT. 151 

had so fully realised his ideas of a daughter-in-law) had 
died away, still this "state-lady," as he used to call her in 
his confidential conversations with tiis wife, would never 
suit him. 

Nevertheless he let matters take their course, and diligently 
occupied himself with his little Chancery. The young juristic 
friend, as well as the dexterous amanuensis, gained continually 
more and more of influence under his firm. As the absentee 
was now no longer missed there, they let me take my own 
way, and sought to establish themselves firmly upon a ground 
on which I was not destined to thrive. 

Fortunately my own tendencies corresponded with the 
sentiments and wishes of my father. He had so great an 
idea of my poetic talents, and felt so personal a pleasure in 
the applause which my earliest efibrts had obtained, that he 
often tallved to me on the subject of new and fui'ther attempts. 
On the other hand, I did not venture to communicate to him 
any of these social effusions and poems of passion. 

As, in Gotz von Berlichingen^ I had in my own way mir- 
rored forth the image of an important epoch of the world, I 
now again carefully looked round for another crisis in political 
history of similar interest. Accordingly the Revolt of the 
Netherlands attracted my attention. In Gotz, I had depicted 
a man of parts and energy, sinking under the delusion that, 
in times of anarchy, ability and honesty of purpose must have 
their weight and influence. The design of Egmont was to 
shew that the most firmly established institutions cannot 
maintain themselves against a powerful and slirewdly cal- 
culating Despotism. I had talked so earnestly with my 
father about what the piece ought to be, and what I wanted 
to do, that it inspired him with an invincible desire to see 
the plan which I had already worked out in my head, fairly 
set down on paper, in order to its being printed and admired. 

In earlier times, while I still hoped to gain Lili's hand, I 
had applied myself with the utmost diligence to the study 
and practice of legal business, but now I sought to fill the 
fearful gulf which separated me from her, with occupations 
of more intellect and soul. I therefore set to work in earnest 
mth the composition of Egmont. Unlike the first Gotz von 
Berlichingen, however, it was not written in succession and 
in order; but immediately after the first iutroduc^on I went 



1>j2 tkuth and poetky; fkom my ownr npii. 

at once to the main scenes without troubling myself about 
the various connecting links. I made rapid progress, because 
my father, knowing my fitful way of working, spurred me on 
(literally and without exaggeration) day and night, and seemed 
to believe that the plan, so easily conceived, might as easily 
be executed. 



TWENTIETH BOOK. 



And so I got on rapidly with my '•'■ Egmont ;'" and while I 
found in this some alleviation of my wounded passion, the 
society of a clever artist also helped me through many weari- 
some hours. And thus, as had often before been the case, a 
vague desire of practical improvement brought me a secret 
peace of mind, at a time when it could scarcely be hoped for. 

George Melchior Kraus, who had been born at Frank- 
fort, but educated in Paris, having just returned from a short 
tour to the north of Germany, paid me a visit, and I imme- 
diately felt an impulse and a need to attach myself to him. 
He was a cheerful merry fellow, whose light joyous disposition 
had foimd its right sphere in Paris. 

At that time Paris promised a pleasant welcome for Ger- 
mans; Philip Hackert was residing there in credit and 
opulence; the true German style in which, both in oil and 
water-colors, he faithfully excuted landscapes after nature, 
met with great favor, as contrasted with the formal man- 
nerism into which the French had fallen. Wille, in high 
esteem as a copperplate engraver, supported and made Ger- 
man excellence more widely Itnown. Grimm, already an 
artist of some influence, rejoiced to help his countrymen. 
Pleasant excursions, in order to take original sketches from, 
nature were constantly undertaken, in which much of un- 
doubted excellence was either executed or designed. 

Boucher and Watteau, both of them artists born, whose 
works, though fluttering in the style and spirit of the time, 
were always highly respectable, were favorably inclined to 
the new school, and even took an active part in their excur- 
sions, though only for the sake of amusement and experiment. 
Greuze, living quietly by himself in his family circle, and 
fond of representing such domestic scenes, seemed delighted 
with his own works, held an honored and easy pencil. 

All these several styles our townsman Krai/s was able to 
take up and blend with his own particular talent ; he formed 
himself in school after school, and was skilful in his portrait- 



154 TKUIH AND poetry; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

like delineations of family and friendly gatherings ; equally 
happy was he in his landscape sketches, which cordially com- 
mended themselves to the eye by their clear outlines, mas- 
sive shadows, and agreeable coloring. The inward sense was 
satisfied by a certain naive truth, while the admirer of artistic 
skill Avas especially pleased with the tact by which he arranged 
and grouped into a picture what he had copied singly from 
nature. 

He was a most agreeable companion ; a cheerful equani- 
mity never failed him ; obliging without obsequiousness, 
reserved without pride, he was everywhere at home, every- 
where beloved, the most active, and, at the same time, the 
most manageable of all mortals. With such talents and of 
such a disposition, he soon won the favor of the higher circles ; 
but he was especially well received at the castle oi" the Baron, 
von Stein, at Nassau on the Lahn, whose accomplished and 
lovely daughter he assisted in her artistic studies, and in 
many ways enlivened the whole circle. 

Upon the marriage of this excellent lady to the Count von 
Werther, the newly wedded couple took the artist with them 
to Thuringia, where the Count possessed a large estate, and 
thus he got to Weimar. His acquaintance was immediately 
sought, his talents were appreciated — and a wish expressed 
that he would fix his permanent abode there. 

Obliging as he was to everybody, upon his return at this 
time to Frankfort, he stimulated my love of art, which had been 
contented with merely collecting, and to making practical 
essays. The neighbourhood of the artist is indispensable to 
the Dilettante, for the latter sees all that is wanting in him- 
self supplied by the former ; the wishes of the amateur are 
fulfilled in the artist. 

By a certain natural talent, assisted by practice, I suc- 
ceeded pretty well in an outline, and I could give the shape of 
all that I saw before me in nature ; but I wanted the peculiar 
plastic power, the skilful industry, which lends a body to the 
outline by well-graduated light and shade. My copies were 
rather remote suggestions of the real form, and my figures 
like those light airy beings in Dante's Purgatory, which, 
casting no shadow themselves, fled afirighted at the shadows 
of actual bodies. 

Lavater's fishing for physiognomical treasures — ^for so wo 



KEAUS THE ABTIST. 155 

may well designate the importunate ui-gency with which he 
called upon all men, not only to observe physiognomies, but 
also practically to make, be it artistic or most bungling 
attempts at copjdng faces, led me into the habit of taking 
the portraits of all my friends on grey paper, Avith black and 
white chalk. The likeness was not to be mistaken, but it 
required the hand of my artistic friend to make them stand 
out from the dark back-ground. 

In turning over andlooking through the rich portfolio of draw- 
ings which the good Kraus had taken during his travels,we had 
most pleasant talk together when he came to the sketches of 
scenes and persons in and about Weimar. On such paintings I, 
too, was glad to dwell, and you may imagine that it must have 
been flattering to the young man, to see in so many pictures 
only the text which was to lead to a circumstantially repeated 
exclamation: they would be glad to see Mm there. With 
much grace he would imitate the different persons whose por- 
traits he had taken and impersonate the greetings and invi- 
tations he had received. One very successful oil-painting 
represented the musical director, Wolf, at the piano, with his 
wife behind him preparing to sing; and this gave the artist 
opportunity to assure me in earnest terms, of the warm wel- 
come this worthy pair would give me. Among his sketches 
were several of the wood and mountain scenery around Biir- 
gel. Here an honest forester, more perhaps to please his 
pretty daughters than himself, had by means of bridges, rail- 
ings, and mossy paths, opened pleasant and sociable walks 
through the rough masses of rocks, thickets, and plantations. 
In one of these beautiful promenades he had painted the fair 
damsels in white dresses, and not without their attendant 
cavaliers. In one of these you immediately recognized Ber- 
tuch, whose serious designs upon the oldest daughter were 
openly avowed; and Ki'aus was not offended if you ventured 
to refer a second youth to himself, and guessed his growing 
attachment to the sister. 

Beetuch, as the pupil of Wieland, had so distinguished 
himself in science and in business, that already appointed 
private secretary of the Duke, he had the best possible pro- 
spects before him. From him we passed to Wieland and 
talked at length of his rectitude, and cheerfulness, and kindly 
dispositior,. ; his fine literary' and poetical designs w^ere dwelt 



156 TRUTH AND POETKY; FEOM MY OWN LIFE. 

upon, and allusions were made to the influence of; the Mercur 
throughout Germany; many -otl er names of literarj^ political, 
or social distinction were also mentioned, and among thenx- 
Musasus, Kirms, Berendis, and Ludecus. Of women, the 
wife of Wolf, and a widow Kotzebue, with a lovely daughter 
and a bright bo)^ were, among many others, characterized 
and extolled. Everything seemed to point to a fresh and 
active life of literature and art. 

And so, by degrees, were exhibited all the various elements 
upon which the young Duke was, on his return, to work. 
His mother and guardian had prepared this state of things, 
while, as regarded the introduction of more important 
measures, all that, in accordance with the duty of such pro- 
visional governments, was left to the judgment and decision 
of the future sovereign. The sad ruin caused by the burning 
of the palace was already looked upon as furnishing occasion 
for new improvements. The mines at Ilmenau, which had 
stopped working, but which, it was asserted, might again be 
made profitable by going to the great expense of repairing 
the deep shaft ; — the university at Jena, which was somewhat 
behind the spirit of the age, and was consequently threatened 
with the loss of some of its most able teachers, — and many 
other matters, roused a noble common interest. Already 
were looks cast around for persons, who, in the upward 
struggle of Germany, might be qualified to further such 
various designs for good, and the prospect seemed as fresh as 
the vivacity and energy of youth could desire. And if it 
seemed sad to bring a young princess not to a home, of a 
suitable princely dignity, but to a very ordinary dwelling built 
for quite a different object; still such beautifully situated and 
well contrived country-houses as Ettenburg, Belvedere, and 
other delightful pleasure-seats, gave enjoyment for the pre- 
sent, and also a hope that the life of nature thus rendered 
necessary, might lead to profitable and agreeable occupa- 
tions. 

In the course of this biography, we have circumstantially 
exhibited the child, the boy, the youth, seeking by different 
ways to approach tc the Suprasensible first, looking with 
strong inclination to a religion of nature ; then, clinging with 
love to a positive one ; and, finally, concentrating himself in 
the trial of his own powers, and joyfully giving himself up to 



THE DAEMONIC — EGMONT. 157 

the general faith. Whilst he wandered to and jfro, space 
which lay intermediate between the sensible and siiprasen- 
sible regions, seeking and looking about him, much came in 
his way which did not appear to belong to either, and he 
seemed to see, more and more distinctly, that it is better to 
avoid all thought of the immense and incomprehensible. 

He thought he could detect in natiu-e — ^both animate and 
inanimate, with soul or without soul — something which mani- 
fests itself only in contradictions, and which, therefore, could 
not be comprehended imder any idea, stiU less imder one 
word. It was not godlike, for it seemed unreasonable ; not 
human, for it had no understanding ; nor deviHsh, for it was 
beneficent; nor angelic, for it often betrayed a malicious 
pleasure. It resembled chance, for it evolved no con- 
sequences; it was like Providence, for it hinted at connexion. 
All that limits us it seemed to penetrate; it seemed to sport 
at will with the necessary elements of om- existence ; it con- 
tracted time and expanded space. In the impossible alone 
did it appear to find pleasure, while it rejected the possible 
with contempt. 

To this principle, which seemed to come in between all 
other principles to separate them, and yet to link them 
together, I gave the name of Daemonic, after the example of 
the ancients and of those who, at any rate, had perceptions 
of the same kind. I sought to screen myself from this fear- 
ful principle, by taking refuge, according to my usual habits, 
in an imaginary creation. 

Among the parts of history which I had particularly studied 
with some care, were the events which have made the United 
Netherlands so famous. I had diligently examined the origi- 
nal sources, and had endeavoiu-ed, as far as possible, to get 
my facts at first hand, and to bring the whole period vividly 
before my mind's eye. The situations it presented appeared 
to me to be in the highest degree dramatic, while, for a prin- 
cipal figure, around whom the others might be grouped with 
the happiest efiect, there was Count Egmont, whose greatness 
as a man and a hero was most captivating. 

But for my purpose it was necessary to convert him into a 
character marked by such peculiarities as would grace a youth 
better than a man in years, and an unmarried man better than. 
the father of a family; and one independent, rather than one. 



158 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

who, however freely disposed, .^ nevertheless restrained by 
the various relations of life. 

Having thus, in my conception of Egmont's character, 
made him youthful, and set him free from aU domestic 
restraints, I ascribed to him unlimited enjoyment of life and 
its pleasures, boundless self-reliance, a gift of drawing all men 
to himself, and consequently also of winniug the favor of the 
people, and which, while it inspired a princess with a silent, 
and a young child of nature with an avowed passion, won for 
him the sympathy of a shrewd statesman, and even the loving 
admiration of the son of his great adversary. 

The personal courage which distinguishes the hero is the 
foundation upon which his whole character rests, the ground 
and soil from which it sprung. He knows no danger, and 
willingly is blind to the greatest when it is close at hand. 
Surrounded by enemies, we may, at any rate, cut our way 
through them.; the meshes of state policy are harder to break 
through. The Daemonic element, which is in play on both 
sides, and in conflict with which the lovely falls while 
the hated triumphs ; and, above all, the prospect that out of 
this conflict will spring a third element, which will answer to 
the wishes of all men ;— this perhaps is what has gained for 
the piece (not, indeed, immediately on its first appearance, 
but later and at the right time), the favor which it now 
enjoys. Here, therefore, for the sake of many beloved read- 
ers, I will anticipate myself, and as I know not whether I 
shall soon have another opportunity, will express a conviction 
which, however, I did not form till a considerable period 
subsequent to that of which I am now writing. 

Although this Daemonic element can manifest itself in all 
corporeal and incorporeal things, and even expresses itsek 
most distinctly in animals, yet, with man, especially does it 
stand in a most wonderful connexion, forming in him a power 
which, if it be not opposed to the moral order of the world, 
nevertheless does often so cross it that one may be regarded 
as the warp, and the other as the woof. 

For the phenomena which it gives rise to there are innume- 
rable names : for all philosophies and rehgions have sought 
in prose and poetry to solve this enigma and to read once for 
all the riddle which, nevertheless, remains still unriddled by 
them. 



THE DAEMONIC INFLUENCE IN LIFE. 159 

Bat the most fearful manifestation of the Demonical, is when 
't is seen predominating in some individual cha:'acter. Dui'ing 
«jv life I have observed several instances of this, either 
juore closely or remotely. Such persons are not always the 
pjost eminent men, either morally or intellectually, and it is 
geldom that they recommend themselves to our affections by 
(Toodness of heart ; a tremendous energy seems to he seated 
fn them, and they exercise a wonderful power over all crea- 
tm*es, and even over the elements ; and, indeed, who shall say 
}iow much farther such influence may extend? All the moral 
powers combined are of no avail against them ; in vain does the 
piore enlightened portion of manldnd attempt to throw sus- 
picion upon them as deceived if not deceivers — ^the mass is 
stiU di'awn on by them. Seldom if ever do the great men of 
an age find their equals among their cotemporaries, and they 
are to be overcome by nothing but by the universe itself; and 
jt is from observation of this fact that the strange, but most 
sti'iking, proverb must have risen: Nemo contra Deum nisi 
J)eiis ipse. 

From these lofty reflections I return to the littleness of my 
own life, for which strange events, clothed at least with a 
demonical appearance, were in store. From the summit of 
3lont Gotthard, I had turned my back upon Italy, and 
j-eturned home, because I could not make up my mind to go 
to a distance from Lili. An affection, which is grounded on 
the hope of possessing for life one dearly beloved, in an inti- 
mate and cordial union, does not die away all at once ; on the 
contrary, it is nomished by a consideration of the reasonable 
desires and honest hopes we are conscious of cherishing. 

It Kes in the nature of the thing, that in such cases the 
maiden should be consoled before the youth. To these beau- 
tiful children, as descendants of Pandora, is granted the 
enviable gift to charm, attract, and (more through natui-e and 
of half purpose, than through design or of malice) to gather 
admirers around them; and thus, like the Magician's Appren- 
lice, they are often in danger of being frightened by the crowd 
of their adorers. And then at last a choice must be made 
from among them all; one must be exclusively preferred; 
one must lead home the bride. 

And how often does accident determine the choice and sway 
the mind of her who has to make the selection ! I had re- 



160 TRUTH AND POETEY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

nounced Lili fi'om conviction, but loYe made me suspect niy 
cwa reason. Lili bad taken leave of me witb tbe same feejl 
ings, arid I bad set out on a beautiful tour in order to distract 
my mind, but it bad produced tbe opposite effect. 

As long as I was absent I believed in tbe separation, but 
did not believe in tbe renunciation. Recollections, Hopes 
and wisbes, ail bad free play. Now I came back, and as tbe 
re-union of tbose wbose bappy love is imopposed, is a beaven 
so tbe meeting again of two lovers wbo are kept apart by cold 
calculations of reason, is an intolerable purgatory, a forecourt 
of bell. Wben I again entered tbe circle in wbicb Lili still 
moved, all tbe dissonances wbicb tended to oppose our union 
seemed to bave gained double force ; wben I stood once more 
before ber, tbe conviction tbat sbe was lost to me, fell beavy 
upon my beart. 

Accordingly I resolved at once on fligbt, and under tliia 
impression tbere was notbing wbicb I desired more, tban that 
tbe young ducal pair of Weimar sbould come from Carlsriilie 
to Frankfort, in order tbat, complying witb old and new iii\i. 
tations, I migbt follow tbem to Weimar. Tbeir Higbnesses 
bad ahvaj^s maintained towards me a gracious and confidential 
manner, for wbicb I on my part returned tbe warmest thanks. 
My attacbment to tbe Duke from tbe first moment I saw him; 
my respect for tbe princess wbom by reputation I bad so long 
Imown; a desire to render personally some friendly service to 
Wieland, wbose conduct bad been so liberal, and to atono 
■upon tbe spot for my balf- wilful, balf-unintentional impro- 
prieties, were motives enougb to induce and even to force the 
assent of a youtb, wbo now bad no attacbment to detain him. 
Moreover, from Lili I must fly, whetber to tbe Soutb, where 
my Fatber's entbusiasm was daily depicting to me a most 
glorious beaven of Art and Nature, or to tbe Nortb, whither 
so distinguisbed a circle of eminent men invited me. 

Tbe young princely pair now reacbed Frankfort on their 
way bome. Tbe Duke of Meiningen's suite was tbere at the 
same time, and 'by bim, as well as by tbe Privy Counsellor 
von Diirkbeim, wbo accompanied tbe young prince, I was 
leceived in tbe most friendly manner possible. But now, to 
keep up tbe fasbion of my youtb, a strange incident was not 
wanting : a little misunderstanding arose to tbrow me into iw 
incredible but ratber laughable perplexity. 



I 



A. lilTTLE PERPIiEXITV. IGI 

Their Highnesses of Weimar and Meiningen were living in 
the same hotel. I received one day an invitation to dinner. 
]\Iy mind was so preoccupied with the Court of Weimar, that 
I did not think it necessary more particularly to inform myself, 
especially as I had not the presumjDtion to imagine that any 
notice would be taken of me by the Diike of IMeiningen. 
Accordingly I go full di-essed to the " Roman Emperors," and 
making my way to the apartments of the Weimar family' 
find them empty; being informed that the Duke and his 
suite are with his Highness of IMeiningen, I betake myself- 
thither, and am kindly received. Supposing that this is only 
a morning visit, or that perhaps the two Dultes are to dine 
together, I await the issue. Suddenly, however, the Weimar 
suite sets itself in motion, and I of com-se follow; but instead 
of returning to their o\'iTi apartments they go straight down 
staii'S and into their chariots, and I am left alone in the 
street. 

Now, instead of inquiring into the matter, and adroitly 
and prudently seeking some solution of it, I, with my usual 
precipitancy, went straight home, where I found my parents 
at supper. My father shook his head, while my mother 
made every possible excuse for me. In the evening she told 
me in confidence, that after I had left the table, my father 
had said, that he wondered very much how I, generally acute 
enough, could not see that in that quarter they only wished to 
make a fool of me and to laugh at me. But this did not move 
me : for meanwhile I had'met vdth Herr von Diirkheim, who 
in his mild way brought me to book with sundry gi'aceful 
and humorous reproaches. I was now awakened from my 
dream, and had an opportunity to express my most sincere 
thanks for the favor intended me contrary to my hope and 
expectation, and to ask forgiveness for my blunder. 

After I had on good groimds determined to accept their 
friendly ojffers, the following arrangement was made. A 
gentleman of the Duke's suite who had stayed behind in Carls- 
ruhe, to wait for a landau which was building in Strasbm-g, 
was to be by a certain day in Frankfort, and I was to hold 
myself in readiness to set ofi" directly with him for Weimar. 
The hearty and gracious farewell with which the young 
sovereigns took their leave of me, the friendly behaviour of the 
courtiers, made me look forwai'd most anxiously tc this 
Vol. II. M 



162 TRUTH AND POETRY; PHOM MY OWN IIFE. 

journey, for wliicli tlie road seemed so pleasantly to smootlio 
itself. 

But here, too, accidents came in to complicate so simple a^ 
arrangement, whicli through my passionate impatience became 
still more confused, and was almost quite frustrated. Having 
announced, the day of my departure, I had taken leave of every, 
body, and after packing up in haste my chattels, not forget 
tino- my unprinted manuscripts, I waited anxiously for the 
horn- which Avas to bring the aforesaid friend in the new 
landau, and to carry me into a new country, and into new 
circumstances. The hour passed, and the day also; and 
since, to avoid a second leave-taking and the being overrun 
with visits, I had given out that I was to depart early in the 
morning, I was obliged to keep close to the house, and to 
my own room, and had thus placed myself in a peculiar 
situation. 

But since solitude and a narrow space were always favora, 
ble to me, and I was now compelled to find some employment 
for these hours, I set to work on my " Egmont," and brought 
it almost to a close. I read over what I wrote to my father, 
who had acquired a peculiar interest in this piece, and wished 
nothing more than to see it finished and in print, since he 
hoped that it would add to his son's reputation. He needed 
something of this sort to keep him quiet, and to make him 
contented; for he was inchned to make very grave comments 
on the non-arrival of the carriage. He maintained that the 
whole afiair was a mere fiction, would not believe in any new 
landau, and pronounced the gentleman Avho stayed behind to 
be a phantom of the air. It was, however, only indirectly 
that he gave me to understand all this ; but he only tormented 
himself and my mother the more openly; insisting that the 
whole thing was a mere piece of court pleasantry, which they 
had practised upon me in consequence of iny former escapades, 
and in order to sicken and to shame me, had put upon me a 
disgraceful mockery instead of the expected honor. 

As to myself, I held fast to my first faith, and congratulated 
myself upon these solitary hours, disturbed by neither fiiend& 
nor strangers, nor by any sort of social distraction. I there- 
fore wrote on vigorously at " Egmont," though not without 
inward mortification. And this frame of mind perhaps suited 
well with the piece itself, which, agitated by so many pa8« 



A disappoi:ntment. 163 

sions, could not Teiy well have been written by one entirely- 
passionless. 

Thus passed eight days, and I know not how many more, 
when such perfect imprisonment began to prove irksome. 
Accustomed for many years to live under the open sky, and 
to enter into society on the most frank and familiar terms, 
in the neighboiu'hood too of one dearly beloved, from whom 
indeed I had resolved to part, but from whom, so long as I 
was within the circle of her attraction, I found it difficult to 
absent myself — all this begun to make me so uneasy, that 
there was danger lest the interest of my tragedy should suffer, 
and my inventive powers be suspended through my impa- 
tience. Already for several evenings I had found it impos- 
sible to remain at home. Disguised in a large mantle, I crept 
round the city, passing the houses of my friends and aquaint- 
ances, and not forbearing to walk up to Lili's window. Her 
house was a corner one, and the room she usually spent her 
evenings in was on the ground floor; the green shades were 
down, but I could easily remark that the lights stood in their 
usual places. Soon I heard her singing at the piano ; it was 
the song. Ah/ wliy resistless dost thou press me? which I had 
-written for her hardly a year before. She seemed to me to 
sing with more expression than ever; I could make out every 
word distinctly; for I had placed my ear as close as the 
convex lattice would permit. After she had sung it through, 
I saw by the shadow which fell upon the curtain that she got 
up and walked backwards and foi*wards, but I sought in vain 
to catch the outline of her lovely person through the thick 
curtains. Nothing but the Arm resolve to tear myself away, 
and not to afflict her with my presence, but actually to 
renounce her, and the thought of the strange impression 
which would be made by my re-appearance, could have 
determined me to leave so dear a neighbourhood. 

Several more days passed away, and my father's suggestion 
seemed daily to become more probable, since not even a letter 
arrived from Carlsruhe to explain the reasons of the delay. 
I. was unable to go on with my poetic labors, and now, in the 
uneasiness with which I was internally distracted, my father 
had the game to himself. He represented to me, that it was 
now too late to change matters, that my trunk was packed, 
and he would give me money and credit to go to Italy; but I 

m2 



164 TRITTH AIS^D POETKY; rEOM MY OWN LIFE. 

must decide quickly. In such a weighty affair, I naturally 
doubted and hesitated. Finally, however, I agreed that if, 
by a certain hour, neither carriage nor message came, I would 
set off, directing my steps first of all to Heidelberg and from 
there over the Alps, not, however, going through Switzerland 
again, but rather taking the route through the Grisons, or the 
Tyrol. 

Strange things indeed must happen, when a planless youth 
who of himself is so easily misled, is also driven into a false 
step by a passionate error of age. But so it is both with 
youth and the whole of life. It is not till the campaign is 
over that we learn to see through its tactics. In the ordinary 
course of things such an accident were easy enough to be 
explained ; but we are always too ready to conspire with error 
against what is naturally probable, just as we shuffle the cards 
before we deal them round, in order that chance may not be 
deprived of its full share in the game. It is precisely thus 
that the element arises in and upon which the Demonical so loves 
to work ; and it even sports with us the more fearfuUy, the 
clearer are the inldings we have of its approach. 

The last day for my waiting had arrived, and the next 
morning was fixed for my setting out on my travels; and now 
I felt extremely anxious to see my friend Passavant again, 
who had just returned from Switzerland, and who would really 
have had cause to be offended if, by keeping my plans entirely 
to myself I had violated the intimate confidence which sub- 
sisted between us. I therefore sent him an anonymous note, 
requesting a meeting by night at a certain spot, where I was 
the first to arrive enveloped in my mantle ; but he was not 
long after me, and if he wondered at the appointment, he must 
have been stiU more surprised to meet the person he did> His 
joy, however, was equal to the astonishment; conversation 
and counsel were not to be thought of, he could only wish 
me well through my Italian journey, and so we parted. The 
next day I saw myself by good time advancing along the 
moimtain road. 

I had several reasons for going to Heidelberg ; one was 
very sensible and prudent, for I had heard that my missing 
Weimar friend mast pass through Heidelberg from Carlsruhe; 
and so, when we reached the post-house, I left a note which 
v/as to be handed to a cavalier who should pass through in 



HEIDELBERG — MADEMOTSELLE DEIF. 165 

the carriage described ; the second reason was one of passion, 
and had reference to my late attachment to Lili. In short. 
Mademoiselle Delf, who had been the confidante of our love, 
and indeed the mediator with our respective parents for their 
approval of our marriage, lived there ; and I prized it as the 
greatest happiness to be able, before I left Germany, to talk 
over those happy times with a worthy, patient, and indulgent 
friend. 

I was well received, and introduced into many families ; 
among others, the family of the high warden of the forests, Von 

W , particularly pleased me. The parents were dignified 

and easy in their manners, and one of the daughters resembled 
Frederica. It was just the time of vintage, the weather beau- 
tiftd, and all my Alsacian feelings revived in the beautiful 
valley of the Rhine. At this time, however, my experience, 
both of myself and others seemed very strange; it was 
as yet quite vague and undigested in my mind, no deli- 
berate judgment upon life had shaped itself before me, and 
whatever sense of the infinite had been awakened within me 
served only to confuse and perplex me the more. In society, 
nevertheless, I was as agreeable and entertaining as ever, and 
possibly even still more so. Here, imder this free air of 
heaven, among joyous men, I sought again the old sports 
which never lose their novelty and charm for youth. With an 
€arlier and not yet extinguished love in my heart, I excited 
sympathy without seeking it, even though it sought no utter- . 
ance of itself, and thus I soon became at home in this circle, 
and indeed necessary to it, and I forgot that I had resolved, 
after talking away a couple of evenings, to continue my 
journey. 

Mademoiselle Delf was one of those persons who, without ex- 
actly intriguing, always like to have some business in hand, and 
to keep others employed, and to carry through some object or 
other. She had conceived a sincere friendship for me ; and 
prevailed the more easily on me to prolong my visit as I lived 
in her house, where she suggested all manner of inducements 
for my stay, and raised all manner of obstacles to my journey. 
^Vhen, however, I wanted to turn the conversation to Lili, 
she was not so well pleased or so sympathizing as I had hoped. 
On the contrary, she said that, imder the circumstances, 
nothing could be wiser than our resolution to part, and main- 



166 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

tained that one must submit to what is unavoidable, banish 
the impossible from the mind, and look around for some new 
object of interest in life. Full of plans as she always was, she 
had not intended to leave this matter to accident, but had 
already formed a project for my future conduct, from which I 
clearly saw that her recent invitation to Heidelberg had not 
been so disinterested as it sounded. 

She reminded me that the Electoral Prince, Charles Theo- 
dore, who had done so much for the arts and sciences, resided 
still at Mannheim, and that as the court was Pvoman Catholic 
while the country was Protestant the latter party was extremely 
anxious to strengthen itself by enlisting the services of able 
and hopeful men. I must now go, in God's name, to Italy, 
and there mature my views of Art ; meanwhile they woulc 
work for me. It would, on my return, soon be seen whethei 

the budding affection of Fraulein von W had expanded 

or had been nipped, and whether it would be politic, through 
an alliance with a respectable family, to establish myself and 
my fortunes in a new home. 

All these suggestions I did not, to be sure, reject ; but my 
planless nature could not wholly harmonize with the scheming 
spirit of my friend ; I was gratified, however, with the kind 
intentions of the moment, while Lili's image floated before 
me, waking and dreaming, and mingled with everything else 
which afforded me pleasure or distraction. But now I sum- 
moned before my soul the serious import of my great travel- 
ling plan, and I resolved to set myself free, gently and with 
propriety, and in a few days to make known to her my deter- 
mination of taking leave of her, and to resume my route. 

One night Mademoiselle Delf had gone on until late unfold- 
ing to me her plans, and all that certain parties were disposed 
to do for me, and I could not but feel grateful for such sen- 
timents, although the scheme of strengthening a certain circle, 
through me and my possible influence at com-t, was manifest 
enough. It was about one o'clock when we separated. ] 
soon fell into a sound sleep, but before very long I was 
awakened by the horn of a postilion who was stopping and 
blowing it before the house. Very soon Mademoiselle Deli 
appeared with a light, and a letter in her hands, and coming 
up to my bed-side, she exclaimed, " Here's the letter ; read 
and teU me what it says. Surely it comes from the Weimar 



DEPARTUEE EOR WEIMAK. 107 

people. If it is an invitation do not follow it, but call to 
mind onr conversation." I asked her to give me a light and 
leave me for a quarter of an hour to myself. She went away 
very reluctantly. I remained thinking for some time without 
opening the letter. The express then has come from Frank- 
fort, I Imow both the seal and hand ; the friend then has 
arrived there ; he is still true to his invitation, and our own 
want of faith and incredulity had made us act prematurely. 
Why could one not wait, in a quiet civilized place, for a man 
who had been announced distinctly, but whose arrival might 
be delaj^ed by so many accidents ? The scales fell from my 
eyes. All the kindness, the graciousness, the confidence of 
the past came up livingly before me, and I was almost ashamed 
of the strange wilful step I had taken. I opened the letter, 
and found all that had happened explained naturally enough. 
My missing guide had waited for the new laudau which was 
to come from Strasbm-g, day after day, hour after hour, as we 
had waited for him ; then for the sake of some business he 
had gone round by way of Manheim to Frankfort, and to his 
dismay had not found me there. He sent the hasty letter by 
express, proposing that now the mistake was explained I 
should instantly return, and save him the shame of going to 
Weimar without me. 

Much as my understanding and my feeling inclined me to 
this side, there was still no lack of weighty arguments in 
favour of my new route. My father had laid out for me a fine 
plan of travel, and had given me a little library, which might 
prepare me for the scenes I was to visit, and also guide me 
on the spot. In my leisure hours I had had no other enter- 
tainment than to reflect on it, and, indeed, during my last 
short journey I had thought of nothing else in the coach. 
Those glorious objects which, from my youth up, I had becom.e 
acquainted with, histories and all sorts of tales, gathered before 
my soul, and nothing seemed to me so desirable as to visit 
them, while I was parting from Lili for ever. 

As these thoughts passed through my mind I had dressed 
myself and was walking up and down my chamber. My 
anxious hostess entered. " What am I to hope ?" she cried. 
" Dearest madam," I answered ; " say no more on the subject; 
I have made up my mind to return ; the grounds of that con- 
clusion I have well weighed, and to repeat them to you would 



168 TRITTH AND POETRY; PHOM MY OWN LIFE. 

be wasting time. A resolution must be taken sooner or later, 
and who should take it but the person whom it most 
concerns ?" 

I was moved, and so was she; and we had an excited 
scene, which I cut short by ordering my servant to engage a 
post-coach. In vain I begged my hostess to calm herself, and 
to turn the mock-departure which I took of the company the 
evening before into a real one ; to consider that it was only a 
temporary visit, a postponement for a short time ; that my 
Italian journey was not given up, and my return that way was 
not precluded. She would listen to nothing, and she disquieted 
her friend, already deeply excited, still more. The coach was 
at the door; everything was packed, and the postilion gave 
the usual signs of impatience ; I tore myself away ; she would 
not let me go, and with so much art brought up all the argu- 
ments of the present, that finally, impassioned and inspired, 
I shouted out the words of Egmont : 

"Child! child! no more! The coursers of time, lashed, as it 
were, by invisible spirits, hmry on the light car of our destiny, 
and all that we can do is in cool self-possession to hold the 
reins with a firm hand, and to guide the wheels, now to the 
left, now to the right, avoiding a stone here, or a precipice 
there. Whither it is hurrying who can tell? and who, 
indeed, can remember the point from which it started V " 



BND OF THE AUTOBIOCJKJLPHY. 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 



171 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

AVhen, a few years ago, the copies of the following letters 
were first made kno^Ti to us, it was asserted that they had 
been found among Werther's papers, and it was pretended 
that before his acquaintance with Charlotte, he had been in 
Switzerland. We have never seen the originals : however we 
would not on any account anticipate the judgment and feel- 
ings of our readers ; for whatever may be their true history, 
it is impossible to read them without sjnnpathy. 



Paut the Fikst. 

How do all my descriptions disgust me, when I read them 
over. Nothing but yom- advice, your command, your in- 
junction could have induced me to attempt anything of the 
kind. How many descriptions, too, of these scenes had I not 
read before I saw them. Did these, then, afford me an 
image of them,— or at best but a mere vague notion? In 
vain did my imagination attempt to bring the objects before 
it ; in vain did m^^ mind try to think upon them. Here I 
now stand contemplating these wonders, and what are my 
feelings in the midst of them ? I can think of nothing — I can 
feel nothing,— and how v/illingiy would I both think and 
feel. The glorious scene before me excites my soul to its 
inmost depths, and impels me to be doing; and yet what can 
I do — what do I ? I set myself do^vn and scribble and 
describe! — Away with you, ye descriptions — delude my friend 
—make him believe that I am doing something — ^that he sees 
and reads something. 



Were, then, these Switzers free? Free, these opulent 
burghers in their little pent-up towns — ^free, those poor devik^ 
on their rocks and crags ? What is it that man cannot be 
made to believe, especially when he cherishes in his heart tho 
memory of some old tale of marvel? Once, forsooth, they did 
break a tyrant's yoke, and might for the moment fancy them- 
selves free; but out of the carcase of the single oppressor the 



172 LETTERS FHOM SWITZEaLAND. 

good sun, by a strange new birth, has hatcbed a swarm of 
petty tyrants. And so now they are ever telling that old tale 
of marvel : one hears it till one is sick of it. They formerly 
made themselves free, and have ever since remained free ! 
and now they sit behind their walls, hugging themselves with 
their customs and laws — ^their philandering and philistering. 
And there, too, on the rocks, it is surely fine to talk of liberty, 
when for six months of the year they, like the marmot, 
are bound hand and foot by the snow. 



Alas I how wretched must any work of man look, in 
the midst of this great and glorious Nature, but espe- 
icially such sorry, poverty-stricken works as these black and 
dirty little towns— such mean heaps of stones and rubbish ! 
Large rubble and other stones on the roofs too, that the 
miserable thatch may not be carried off from the top of them, 
—and then the filth, the dung, and the gaping idiots ! When 
here you meet with man and the wretched work of his h^nds, 
you are glad to fly away immediately from both. 

That there are in man very many intellectual capacities 
which in this life he is unable to develope, which therefore 
point to a better future, and to a more harmonious state of 
existence : on this point we are both agreed. But further 
than this I cannot give up that other fancy of mine, even 
though on account of it you may again call me, as you have 
so often done already, a mere enthusiast. For my part, I do 
think that man feels conscious also of corporeal qualities, of 
whose mature expansion he can have no hope in this life. 
This most assuredly is the case with ' ^flying. ' ' How strongly at 
one time used the clouds, as they drove along the blue sky, to 
tempt me to travel with them to foreign lands ! and now in 
v/hat danger do I stand, lest they should carry me away with 
them from the mountain peak as they sweep violently by. 
What desire do I not feel to throw myself into the boundless 
regions of the air — ^to poise over the terrific abyss, or to 
alight on some otherwise inaccessible rock. With what 
a longing do I draw deeper and deeper breath, when, in 
the dark blue depth below, the eagle soars over rocks and 
forests, or in company, and in sweet concord with his mate, 
wheels in wide circles round the eyrie to which he has 



FANCIES AND FEELINGS. 173 

entrusted his young. ]Must I then never do more than creep 
up to the summits? Must I always go on clinging to the 
highest rocks, as well as to the lowest plain ; and when I 
have at last, with much toil, reached the desired eminence, 
must I still anxiously grasp at every holding place, shudder at 
the thought of return, and tremble at the chance of a fall. 



With what wonderful properties are we not born, — what 
vague aspirations rise within us ! How rarely do imagina- 
tion and our bodily powers work in opposition ! Peculiarities 
of my early boyhood again recur. "While I am walking, and 
have a long road before me, my arms go dangling by my 
side, I often make a grasp, as if I would seize a javelin, and 
hurl it I know not at whom, or what ; and then I fancy an 
arrow is shot at me which pierces me to the heart ; I strike 
my hand upon my breast, and feel an inexpressible sweetness ; 
and then after this I soon revert to my natural state. Whence 
comes this strange phenomenon, — what is the meaning of it ? 
and why does it invariably recur under the same figures, in 
the same bodily movement, and with the same sensation ? 



I am repeatedly told that the people who have met me on 
my journey are little satisfied with me. I can readily be- 
lieve it, for neither has any one of them contributed to my 
satisfaction. I cannot teU how it comes to pass, that society 
oppresses me ; that the forms of politeness are disagi*eeable 
to me — ^that what people talk about does not interest me, — ■ 
that all that* they show to me is either quite indifierent, or 
else produces quite an opposite impression to what they 
expect. When I am shown a drawing or painting of any 
beautiful spot, immediately a feeling of disquiet arises within 
me which is utterly inexpressible. My toes within my shoes 
begin to bend, as if they would clutch the ground — a cramp- 
like motion runs through my fingers. I bite my lips, and I 
hasten to leave the company I am in, and throw myself down 
in the presence of the majesty of nature on the first seat how- 
ever inconvenient. I try to take in the scene before me 
mth my eye — to seize all its beauties, and on the spot I love to 
cover a whole sheet with scratches, which represent nothing 
eitactly, but which, nevertheless, possess an infinite value 



174 LETTEES PSOM SWITZEELAjSTD. 

ill my eyes, as serving to remind me of the happy moment, 
whose bliss even this bungling exercise could not mar. What 
means, then, this strange effort to pass from art to nature, 
and then back again from nature to art: If it gives promise 
of an artist, why is steadiness wanting to me ? If it calls me 
to enjoyment, wherefore, then, am I not able to seize it ? I 
lately had a present of a basket of fruit. I was in raptures at 
the sight of it as of something heavenly, — such riches, such 
abundance, such variety and yet such affinity ! I could not 
persuade myself to pluck off a single berry — I could not bring 
myself to take a single peach or a fig. Most assuredly this 
gratification of the eye and the inner sense is the highest and 
most worthy of man ; in aU probability it is the design of 
Nature, when the hungry and thirsty believe that she has 
exhausted herself in marvels merely for the gratification of 
their palate. Ferdinand came and found me in the midst of 
these meditations: he did me justice, and then said, smiling, but 
with a deep sigh, " Yes, we are not worthy to consume these 
glorious products of Nature ; truly it were a pity. Permit 
me to make a present of them to my beloved?" How glad 
was I to see the basket carried off! How did I love Ferdi- 
nand — ^how did I thank him for the feeling he had excited 
in me — ^for the prospect he gave me? Aye, we ought to 
acquaint ourselves with the beautiful; we ought to contem- 
plate it with rapture, and attempt to raise ourselves up to its 
height. And in order to gain strength for that, we must 
keep ourselves thoroughly unselfish — we must not make it 
our own, but rather seek to communicate it : indeed, to make 
a sacrifice of it to those who are dear and precioils to us. 



How sedulously are we shaped and moulded in our 
youth — ^how constantly are we then called on to lay aside 
now this, now that bad feeling ! But what, in fact, are our 
so-called bad feelings but so many organs by means of which 
man is to help himself in life. How is not the poor child 
worried, in whom but a little spark of vanity is discovered ! 
and yet what a poor miserable creature is the man who has 
no vanity at all. I will now tell you what has led me to 
make all these reflections. The day before yesterday we 
were joined by a young feUow, who was most disagreeable to 



CONVENTIONAL EDUCATION'. 175 

me and to Ferdinand. His weak points were so prominent, 
Ms emptiness so manifest, and his care for Ms outward appear- 
ance so obvious, that we looked down upon Mm as far in- 
ferior to ourselves, yet everywhere he was better received 
than we were. Among other of Ms follies, he wore a waist- 
coat of red satin, which round the neck was so cut as to look 
like the ribbon of some order or other. We could not 
restrain our jokes at this piece of absurdity, but he let them 
all pass, for he drew a good profit from it, and perhaps 
secretly laughed at us. For host and hostess, coachman, 
waiter and chambermaid, and indeed not a few of our fellow- 
travellers, were taken in by this seeming ornament, and 
showed him greater politeness than ourselves. Not only was 
he always first waited upon, but, to our great humiliation, we 
saw that all the pretty girls in the inns bestowed all their 
stolen glances upon him ; and then, when it came to the 
reckoning, which his eminence and distinction had enhanced, 
we had to pay our full shares. Who, then, was the fool in 
the game? — ^not he, a&suredly. 



There is something pretty and instructive about the 
symbols and maxims which one here sees on all the stoves. 
Here you have the drawing of one of these symbols which 
particularly caught my fancy. A horse tethered by his Mnd 
foot to a stake is grazing round it as far as Ms tether will 
permit ; beneath is written, " Allow me to take my allotted 
portion of food." TMs, too, will be the case with me, when 
I come home, and, like the horse in the mill, shall have to 
work away at your pleasure, and in return, like the horse 
here on the stove, shall receive a nicely-measured dole for 
my support. Yes, I am coming back, and what awaits me 
was certainly well worth all the trouble of climbing up these 
mountain heights, of wandering tMough these valleys, and 
seeing this blue sky — of discovering that there is a nature 
which exists by an eternal voiceless necessity, wMch has no 
wants, no feelings, and is divine, whilst we, whether in the 
country or in the towns, have alike to toil hard to gain a 
miserable subsistence, and at the same time struggle to subject 
everything to our lawless caprice, and call it liberty ! 



176 IjETTers from Switzerland. 

Aye, I have ascended the Furca — ^the summit of S. 
Gotthard. These sublime, incomparable scenes of nature, will 
ever stand before my eye. Aye, I have read the Roman 
history, in order to gain from the comparison a distinct and 
vivid feeling what a thoroughly miserable being I am. 



Never has it been so clear to me as during these last few 
days, that I too could be happy on moderate means — could 
be quite as happy as any one else, if only I linew a trade — 
an exciting one, indeed, but yet one which had no conse- 
quences for the morrow, which required nothing but industry 
and attention at the time, without calling for either foresight 
or retrospection. Every mechanic seems to me the happiest 
of mortals : all that he has to do is already settled for him, 
what he can do is fixed and known. He has not to rack his 
brains over the task that is set him ; he works away without 
thinking, without exertion or haste, but still with diligence 
and pleasure in his work, like a bird building its nest, or a 
bee constructing its cells. He is but a degree above the 
beasts, and yet he is a perfect man. How do I envy the pofter 
at his wheel, or the joiner behind his bench ! 



Tilling the soil is not to my liking — ^this first and most 
necessary of man's occupations is disagreeable to me. In it 
man does but ape nature, who scatters her seeds everywhere, 
whereas man would choose that a particular field should pro- 
duce none but one particular fruit. But things do not go on 
exactly so— -the weeds spring up luxuriantly — ^the cold and 
wet injures the crop, or the hail cuts it off entirely. The 
poor husbandman anxiously waits throughout the year to see 
how the cards will decide the game with the clouds, and 
determine whether he shall win or lose his stakes. Such a 
doubtful ambiguous condition may be right suitable to man, in 
his present ignorance, while he knows not whence he came, 
nor whither he is going. It may then be tolerable to man to 
resign aU his labours to chance ; and thus the parson, at any 
rate, has an opportunity, when things look thoroughly bad, to 
remind him of Providence, and to connect the sins of hie 
flock with the incidents of nature. 



AX ADVENTUEE. 177 

So then I have nothing to joke Ferdinand about ! I \do 
have met with a pleasant adventure. Adventure ! why do I 
use the silly word? There is nothing of adventure in a gentle 
attraction which draws man to man. Our social life, our false 
relations, those are adventures, these are monstrosities and 
yet they come before us as well-known and as nearly akin 
to us, as Uncle and Aunt. • 

We had been introduced to Herr Tiidou, and we found our- 
selves very happy among this family — rich, open-hearted, 
good-natiu-ed, hvely people, who in the society of their 
children, in comfort and without care, enjoy the good which 
each day brings with it— their property and their glorious 
neighbourhood. We young folks were not required, as is too 
often the case, in so many formal households, to sacrifice our- 
selves at the card-table, in order to humour the old. On the 
contrary, the old people, father, mother, and aimts, gathered 
round us, when for our own amusement, we got up some little 
games, in which chance, and thought, and wit, had their coun- 
teracting influence. Eleonora — for I must now at last men- 
tion her name — the second daughter — ^her image wiU for ever 
De present to my mind — a sKm shght-frame, delicately chi- 
selled features, a bright eye — a palish complexion, which in 
young girls of her age is rather pleasing than disagreeable, 
as being a sign of no very incurable a malady — on the whole, 
her appearance was extremely agreeable. She seemed cheer- 
ful and lively and every one felt at his ease with her. Soon — 
indeed I may venture to say at once, — at once, on the very first 
evening she made me her companion ; she sat by my side, and 
if the game separated us a moment, she soon contrived to 
find her old place again. I was gay and cheerful — my 
journey, the beautiful weather, the country— all had contri- 
buted to produce in me an immoderate cheerfulness — aye, I 
might almost venture to say, a state of excitement. I derived 
it from everything and imparted it to everything ; even Fer- 
dinand seemed to forget his fair one. We had almost ex- 
hausted om-selves in varying our amusements when we at last 
thought of the "Game of Matrimony." The names of the 
ladies and of the gentlemen were thrown separately into two 
hats, and then the pairs were drawn out one by one. On each 
couple, as determined by tiie lot, one of the company whcw5 
turn it might hanpen to be, had to write a little poem. Everv 

Vol. IL " n 



178 LETTERS "FKOIVI SWITZERLAND. 

one of the party, father, mother, and aunts, were obliged to put 
their names in the hats ; we cast in besides the names of 
oiir acquaintances, and to enlage the number of candidates for 
matrimony, we threw in those of all the w^ell-known charac- 
ters of the literary and of the political world. "We com- 
menced playing, and the first pairs that were drawn were 
highly distinguished personages. It was not every one, how- 
ever, who was ready at once with his verses. She, Ferdinand 
and myself, .and one of the aunts who wrote very pretty 
verses in French — -we soon divided among ourselves the office 
of secretary. The conceits were mostly good and the verses 
tolerable. Her's especially, had a touch of nature about them 
which distinguished them from all others ; without being really 
clever they had a happy turn ; they were playful without being 
bitter, and shewed good will towards every one. The father 
laughed heartily, and his face was lit up with joy when his 
daughter's verses were declared to be the best after mine. 
Our unqualified approbation highly delighted him, — we praised 
ctS men praise unexpected merit — as we praise an author who 
has bribed us. At last out came my lot, and chance had 
taken honourable care of me. It was no less a personage than 
the Empress of all the Russias, who was drawn to be my 
partner for life. The company laughed heartily at the match, 
and Eleonora maintained that the whole company must try 
their best to do honour to so eminent a consort. All began 
to try : a few pens were bitten to pieces ; she was ready first, 
but wished to read last ; the mother and the aunt could make 
nothing of the subj ect, and although the father was rather matter- 
of-fact, Ferdinand somewhat humorous, and the aunts rather 
reserved, still, through all you could see friendship and good- 
will. At last it came to her turn ; she drew a deep breath, 
her ease and cheerfulness left her; she did not read but rather 
lisped it out — and laid it before me to read it to the rest. I 
was astonished, amazed. Thus does the bud of love open in 
beauty and modesty! I felt as if a whole spring had 
showered upon me all its flowers at once ! Every one was 
silent, Ferdinand lost not his presence of mind. "Beautiftd," 
he exclaimed, "very beautiful! he deserves the poem as 
little as an Empire." " If, only we have rightly understood 
it," sairl the father; the rest requested I would read it once 
more. My eyes had hitherto been fixed on the precious 



ART AND NATUEK. 17^ 

words, a shudder ran through me from head to foot , Ferdinand 
who saw my perplexity, took the paper up and read it. She 
scarcely allowed him to finish before she drew out the lots for 
another paii'. The play was not kept up long after this and 
refreshments were brouorht in. 



Shall I or shall I not ? Is it right of me to hide in silence 
any thing fr-om him to whom I tell so much — nay, all ? Shall 
I keep back fr-om you a great matter, when I yet weary you 
with so many trifles which assm-edly no one would ever read 
but you who have taken so wonderful a liking for me ? or shall 
I keep back anything from you because it might perhaps give 
you a false, not to say an ill opinion of me ? No — you know me 
better than I even know myself. If I should do anything 
which you do not believe possible I could do, you will amend 
it; if I should do anything deserving of censure, you will not 
spare me, — ^you will lead me and guide me whenever my pecu- 
liarities entice me off the right road. 

My joy, my rapture at works of art when they are true, 
when they are immediate and speaking expressions of Natiu-e 
afford the greatest delight to every collector, to every dilet- 
tante. Those indeed who call themselves connoisseurs are 
not always of my opinion.; but I care nothing for their con- 
noisseui'ship when I am happy. Does not living natm-e vividly 
impress itself on my sense of vision? Do not its images 
remain fixed in my brain ? Do not they there grow in beauty, 
deHghting to compare themselves in turn with the images 
of art which the mind of others has also embellished and beau- 
tified ? I confess to you that my fondness for nature arises 
from the fact of my always seeing her so beautiful, so lovely, 
so brilliant, so ravishing, that the similation of the artist, 
even his imperfect imitation transports me almost as much, as 
if it were a perfect type. It is only such works of art, how- 
ever, as bespeak genius and feeling that have any charms for 
me. Those cold imitations which confine themselves to the 
narrow circle of a certain meagre mannerism, of mere pains- 
taking dihgence, are to me utterly intolerable. You see, there- 
fore, that my delight and taste cannot well be riveted by a 
work of art, unless it imitates such objects of nature as are 
well known to me, so that I am able to test the imitation by 
my own experience of the originals. Landscape, with all 
that lives and moves therein — ^flowers and fruit-trees, Gothic 

N 2 



180 IiETTEES EEOM SWITZERLAND. 

cliurclies, — a portrait taken directly from Nature, all this I 
can recognize, feel, and if you like, judge of. Honest W — — • 
amused himself with this trait of my character, and in such a 
way that I could not be offended, often made merry with it 
at my expense. He sees much further in this matter, than I do, 
and I shall always prefer that people should laugh at me while 
they instruct, than that they should praise me without bene- 
fitting me. He had noticed what things I was most immedi- 
ately pleased with, and after a short acquaintance did not 
hesitate to avow that in the objects that so transported me 
there might be much that was truly estimable, and which 
time alone would enable me to distinguish. 

But I turn from this subject and must now, however cir- 
cuitously, come to the matter which, though reluctantly, I 
cannot but confide to you. I can see you in your room, in 
your little garden, where, over a pipe of tobacco, you will 
probably break the seal and read this letter. Can your 
thoughts follow me into this free and motley world ? WijQ. the 
circumstances and true state of the case become clear to yom- 
imagination? And will you be as indulgent towards your 
absent friend as I have often found you when present? 

When my artistic friend became better acquainted with me, 
and judged me w^orthy of being gradually introduced to better 
pieces of art, he one day, not without a most mysterious look, 
took me to a case, which, being opened, displayed a Danae, of 
the size of life, receiving in her bosom the golden shower. I 
was amazed at the splendour of the limbs — the magnificence 
of the posture and arrangement — the intense tenderness and 
the intellectuality of the sensual subject; and yet I did but 
stand before it in silent contemplation. It did not excite in 
me that rapture, that delight, that inexpressible pleasure. 
My friend, who went on descanting upon the merits of the pic- 
tm^e, was too full of his own enthusiasm to notice my coldness, 
and was delighted with the opportunity this painting afforded 
him of pointing out the distinctive excellences of the Italian 
School. 

But the sight of this picf m^e has not made me happy — it has 
made me uneasy. How ! said I to myself — ^in what a strange 
<iase do we civilized men find ourselves with our many conven- 
tional restraints ! A mossy rock, a waterfall rivets my eye so 
long that I can tell, everything about it — its heights, its cavities. 



STUDIES OF THE KUDE. 181 

its lights and shades, its hues, its blending tints and reflections 
— all is distinctly present to my mind ; and whenever I please, 
comes vividly before me, in a most happy imitation. But of 
that masterpeice of Nature, the himian frame — of the order 
and S5niimetry of the limbs, of all this I have but a very gene- 
ral notion — which in fact is no notion at all. My imagination 
presents to me anything but a -^ivid image of this glorious 
structure, and when art presents an imitation of it, to my eye 
\i awakens in me no sensation and I am unable to judge of the 
merits of the picture. No, I will remain no longer in this 
state of stupidity. I will stamp on my mind the shape of man, 
as well as that of a cluster of grapes or of a peach-tree. 

I sought an occasion and got Ferdinand to take a swim in 
the lake. What a glorious shape has my friend; how duly 
proportioned are all his limbs: what fidness of form; what 
splendom- of youth ! What a gain to have enriched my ima- 
gination with this perfect model of manhood ! Now I can 
people the woods, the meadow, and the hills, with similar fine 
forms ! I can see him as Adonis chasing the boar, or as Nar- 
cissus contemplating himself in the mirror of the spring. 

But alas ! my imagination cannot furnish, as yet, a Venus, 
who holds him from the chace, a Venus who bewails his 
death, or a beautiful Echo casting one sad look more on the 
cold corpse of the youth before she vanishes for ever ! I have 
therefore resolved, cost what it will, to see a female form in 
the state that I have seen my friend. 

When, therefore, we reached Geneva, I made arrangements 
in the character of an artist to complete my studies of the 
nude figure, and to-morrow evening my wish is to be 
gratified. 



I cannot avoid going to-day with Ferdinand to a granG 
party. It will form an excellent foil to the studies of this 
evening. Well enough do I knov/ those formal parties where 
the old women require you to play at cards with them, and 
the young ones to ogle with them ; where you must listen to 
the learned, pay respect to the parson, and give way to the 
noble, where the numerous lights show you scarcely one tole- 
rable foim, and that one hidden and bmied beneath some 
barbarous load of fi-ippery. I shall have to speak French, 
too,— a foreign tongue — ^the use of which always makes a 



182 I/ETTERS FROM SWITZEELAND. 

man appear silly, whatever lie may think of himself, since the 
best he can express in it is nothing but common piace, and 
the most obvious of remarks, and that, too, only with stammer- 
ing and hesitating lips. For what is it that distinguishes the 
olockhead from the really clever man but the peculiar quick- 
ness and vividness with which the latter discerns the nicer 
shades and proprieties of all that come before him, and ex- 
presses himself thereon with facility; whereas the former, 
(just as we all do with a foreign language,) is forced on every 
occasion to have recourse to some ready found and conver- 
sational phrase or other ? To-day I will calmly put up with 
the sorry entertainment, in expectation of the rare scene of 
nature which awaits me in the evening. 



My adventure is over. It has fully equalled my expectation 
— ^nay, surpassed it ; and yet I know not whether to congra- 
tulate, or to blame myself on account of it. 

Pakt the Second. 

Munster, October 3, 1797. 

From Basle you will receive a packet containing an account 
of my travels up to that point, for we are now continuing in 
good earnest our tours through S^dtzerland. On our route 
to Biel we rode up the beautiful valley of the Birsch, and at 
last reached the pass which leads to this place. 

Among the ridges of the broad and lofty range of moun- 
tains the little stream of the Birsch found of old a channel for 
itself. Necessity soon after may have driven men to 
clamber wearily and painfully through its gorges. The 
Romans in their time enlarged the track, and now you may 
travel through it with perfect ease. The stream, dashing over 
crags and rocks, and the road run side by side, and except 
at a few points, these make up the whole breadth of the pass 
which is hemmed in by rocks, the top of which is easily reached 
by the eye. Behind them the mountain chain rose with a 
slight inclination ; the summits, however, were veiled by a mist. 

Ilere walls of rock rise precipitously one above another ; 
there immense strata run obliquely down to the river and the 
road — here again broad masses lie piled one over another, 
while close beside stands a lioe of sharp -pointed crags. Wide 



THE VALLEY OF THE BIESCIT. 183 

clefts run yawning upwards, and blocks, of the size of a 
wall, have detached themselves from the rest of the stony- 
mass. Some fragments of the rock have rolled to the 
bottom; others are still suspended, and by their position 
alarm you, as also likely at any moment to come toppling down. 

Now rc/und, now pointed, now overgrown, now bare are 
the tops of these rocks among and high above which some 
single bald summit boldly towers, while along the perpendi- 
cular cliffs and among the hollows below, the weather has 
Worn many a deep and winding cranny. 

The passage through this defile raised in me a grand but 
calm emotion. The sublime produces a beautiful calmness 
in the soul Avhich entirely possessed by it, feels as great as it 
ever can feel. How glorious is such a pure feeling, when it 
rises to the very highest, without overflowing. My eye and 
my soul were both able to take in the objects before me, and 
as I was pre-occupied by nothing, and had no false tastes to 
counteract their impression, they had on me their full and 
natural effect. When we compare such a feeling with that 
we are sensible of, when we laboriously harass ourselves with 
some trifle, and strain every nerve to gain as much as possible 
for it, and as it w^ere, to patch it out, striving to furnish joy 
and aliment to the mind from its own creation ; we then feel 
sensibly what a poor expedient, after all, the latter is. 

A young man, whom we have had for our companion from 
Basle, said his feelings were very far from w^hat they were 
on his first. visit, and gave all the honour to novelty. I how- 
ever would say, when we see such objects as these for the 
first time, the unaccustomed soul has to expand itself, and 
this gives rise to a sort of painful joy — an overflowing of 
emotion which agitates the mind, and draws from us the 
most delicious tears. By this operation the soul, without know- 
ing it, becomes greater in itself, and is of course not capable 
of ever feeling again such a sensation, and man thinks in con- 
sequence that he has lost something, whereas in fact he has 
gained. What he loses in delight he gains in inward riches. 
If only destiny had bidden me to dwell in the midst of some 
grand scenery, then would I every morning have imbibed 
greatness from its grandeur, as from a lonely valley I would 
extract patience and repose. 

After reaching the end of the gorge I alighted, and went 



184 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

back alone through a part of the valley. I thris called forth 
another profound feeling — one by which the attentive mind 
may expand its joys to a high degree. One guesses in the 
dark about the origin and existence of these singular forms. 
It may have happened, when and how it may, — ^these masses 
must, according to the laws of gravity and affinity, have been 
formed grandly and simply by aggregation. Whatever revo- 
lutions may subsequently have upheaved, rent and divided 
them, the latter were only partial convulsions, and even the 
idea of such mighty commotions gives one a deep feeling of the 
eternal stability of the masses. Time, too, bound by the ever- 
lasting law, has had here greater, here less, effect upon them. 

Internally their colour appears to be yellowish. The air, 
however, and the weather has changed the surface into a 
bluish- grey, so that the original colour is only visible here 
and there in streaks and in the fresh cracks. The stone itself 
slowly crumbles beneath the influence of the weather, becoming- 
rounded at the edges, as the softer flakes wear away. In this 
manner have been formed hollows and cavities gracefully 
shelving off, which when they have sharp slanting and 
pointed edges, present a singular appearance. 

Vegetation maintains its rights on every ledge, on every 
flat surface, for in every fissure the pines strike root, and 
the mosses and plants spread themselves over the rocks. One 
feels deeply convinced that here there is nothing accidental ; 
that here there is working an eternal law which, however 
slowly, yet surely governs the universe, — that there is nothing 
here from the hand of man but the convenient road, by means 
of which this singular region is traversed. 



Geneva^ October 27, 1779. 

The great mountain-range which, running from Basle to 
Geneva, divides Switzerland from France, is, as you are aware, 
named the Jura. Its principal heights run by Lausanne,, 
and reach as far as Rolle and Nyon. In the midst of this 
summit ridge Nature has cut out — I might almost say washed 
out— -a remarkable valley, for on the tops of all these lime- 
stone rocks the operation of the primal waters is mani- 
fest. It is called La Vallee de Joux, which means 'the 
Valley of the Rock, since Joux in the local dialect signifies a 



LA VALLEE DE JOUX. 185 

rock. Before I proceed with the further description of oiir 
journey, I will give you a brief geographical account of its 
situation. Lengthwise it stretches like the mountain range 
itself almost directly from south to north, and is locked in on 
the one side by Sept Moncels, and on the other by Dent de 
Vaulion, which, after the Dole, is the highest peak of the 
Jura. Its length, according to the statement of the neigh- 
bourhood,' is nine short leagues, but according to our rough 
reckoning as we rode tln^ough it, six good leagues. The 
mountainous ridge which bounds it lengthwise on the north, 
and is also visible from the flat lands, is called the Black 
Mountain (Le Noir Mont). Towards the west the Risou rises 
gradually, and slopes away towards Franche Comte. France 
and Berne divide the valley pretty evenly between them ; the 
former claiming the upper and inferior half, and the latter 
possessing the lower and better portion, which is properly 
called La Vallee du Lac de Joux. Quite at the upper part 
of the valley, and at the foot of Sept Moncels, lies the Lac des 
Kousses, which has no single visible origin, but gathers its 
waters from the numerous springs which here gush out of the 
soil, and from the little brooks which run into the lake from 
all sides. Out of it flows the Orbe, which after rimning 
through the whole of the French, and a great portion of the , 
Bernese territory, forms lower down, and towards the 
Dent de Vaulion, the Lac de Jo-ux, which falls on one side into 
a smaller lake, the waters of which have some subterraneous 
outlet. The breadth of the valley varies ; above, near the 
Lac des Bousses it is nearly half a league, then it closes in to 
expand again presently, and to reach its greatest breath, 
which is nearly a league and a-half. So much to enable you 
better to understand what follows ; while you read it, how- 
ever, I would beg you now and then to cast a glance upon 
yom- map, although, so far as concerns this country, I have 
found them all to be incorrect. 

October 24:th. In company with a captain and an upper 
ranger of the forests in these parts, we rode first of all up 
Mont, a little scattered village, which much more correctly 
might be called a line of husbandmen's and vinedressers^ 
cottages. The weather was extremely clear ; when we turned 
to look behind us, we had a \iew of the Lake of Geneva, 
the mountains of Savoy and Valais, and could just catch 



186 liETTEBS FBOM SWITZERLAND. 

Lausanne, and also, tlirough a light mist, tlie country roiiiid 
Geneva, Mont Blanc, wiiich towers above aU the mountains 
of Faucigni, stood out more and more distinctly. It was ij. 
brilliant sunset, and the view was so grand, that no humau 
eye was equal to it. The moon rose almost at the full, as we 
got continually higher. Through large pine forests we conti- 
nued to ascend the Jura, and saw the lake in a mist, and in it 
the reflection of the moon. It became lighter and lighter. 
The road is a well-made causeway, though it was laid down 
merely for the sake of facilitating the transport of the timber 
to the plains below. We had been ascending for full three 
leagues before the road began gently to descend. We thought 
we saw below us a vast lake, for a thick mist filled the whole 
Taliey which we overlooked. Presently we came nearer to 
the mist, and observed a white bow which the moon formed in 
it, and were soon entirely enveloped in the fog. The com- 
pany of the captain procured us lodgings in a house where 
strangers were not usually entertained. In its internal ar- 
rangement it differed in nothing from usual buildings of the 
same kind, except that the great room in the centre was at 
once the kitchen, the ante-room, and general gathering-place 
of the family, and from it you entered at once into the 
sleeping-rooms, w^hich were either on the same floor with it, or 
had to be approached by steps. On the one side was the fire, 
which was burning on the ground on some stone slabs, while 
a chimney, built durably and neatly of planks, received and 
carried off* the smoke. In the corner were the doors of the 
oven ; all the rest of the floor was of wood, with the excep- 
tion of a small piece near the window around the sink, which 
was paved. Moreover, all around, and over head on the 
beams a multitude of domestic articles and utensils were 
arranged in beautiful order, and all kept nice and clean. 

October 2bth. — This morning the weather was cold but clear, 
the meadows covered with hoar frost, and here and tliere 
light clouds w^ere floating in the air. We could pretty nearly 
survey the whole of the lower valley, our house being situated 
at the foot of the eastern side of Noir Mont. About eight we 
set off", and in order to enjoy the sun fully, proceeded on the 
western side. The part of the valley we now traversed was 
divided into meadows, which, towards the lake were rather 
awamnv. The inhabitants either dwell in detacJied houses 



THE DENT DE TAT7I-I0N'. 187 

hiiilt by the side of their farms, or else have gathered closer 
together in Httle villages, which bear simple names derived 
from their several sites. The first of those that we passed 
through was called " Le Sentier." We saw at a distance the 
Dent de Yanlion peeping out over a mist which rested on 
the lake. The vaUey grew broader, but our road now lay behind 
a ridge of rock which shut out our view of the lake, and then 
through another viUage called " Le Lieu." The mist arose, and 
fell off highly variegated by the sun. Close hereto is a small 
lake, which apparently has neither inlet nor outlet of its 
waters. The weather cleared up completely as we came 
to the foot of Dent de Vaulion, and reached the northern 
extremity of the great lake, which, as it turns westward, 
empties itself into a smaller by a dam beneath the bridge. 
The viUage just above is called " Le Pont." The situation 
of. the smaller lake is what you may easily conceive, as being 
in a peculiar little valley which may be called pretty. At the 
western extremity there is a singular mill, built in a ravine of 
the rock which the smaller lake used formerly to fill. At 
present it is dammed out of the mill which is Greeted in the 
hollow below. The water is conveyed by sluices to the wheel, 
from which it falls into crannies of the rock, and being sucked 
in by them, does not show itself again tiU it reaches Valorbe, 
which is a fuU league off, where it again bears the name of 
the Orbe. These oiitlets {entonnoirs) require to be kept clear, 
otherwise the water would rise and again fill the ravine, and 
overflow the mill as it has often done already. We saw the 
people hard at work removing the w^orn pieces of the lime- 
stone and replacing them by others. 

We rode back again over the bridge towards " Le Pont," 
and took a guide for the Dent du Vaulion. In ascending it 
Ave now had the great Lake directly behind us. To the east 
its boundary is the Noir Mont, behind which the bald peak of 
the Dole rises up ; to the west it is shut in by the mountain 
ridge, w^hich on the side of the lake is perfectly bare. The sun 
felt hot: it was between eleven and twelve o'clock. By 
degrees we gained a sight of the whole valley, and were able 
to discern in the distance the " Lac des Rousses," and then 
stretching to om* feet the district we had just ridden through 
and the road which remained for our return. During the 
ascent my guide discoursed of the whole range of the country 



188 IjEtteks fkom Switzerland. 

and tlie lordslilps which, he said, if was possible to distinguish 
from the peak. In the midst of such talk we reached the 
summit. But a very different spectacle M^as prepared for us. 
Under a bright and clear sky nothing was visible but the high 
mountain chain, all the lower regions were covered with a white 
sea of cloudy mist, which stretched from Geneva northwards, 
along the horizon and glittf^'.^-i brilliantly in the sunshine. 
Out of it, rose to the east, the whole line of snow and ice- 
capt mountains acknowledging no distinction of names of 
either the Princes or Peoples, who fancied they were owners of 
them, and owning subjection only to one Lord, and to the glance 
of the Sun which was tinging them with a beautiful red. Mont 
Blanc, right opposite to us, seemed the highest, next to it were 
the ice-crowned summits of Valais and Oberland, and lastly, 
came the lower mountains of the Canton of Berne. Towards 
the west, the sea of mist which was unconfined to one spot ; 
on the left, in the remotest distance, appeared the mountains 
of Solothurn ; somewhat nearer those of Neufchatel, and right 
before us some of the lower heights of the Jura. Just below, 
lay some of the masses of the Vaulion, to which belongs the 
Dent, (tooth) which takes from it its name. To the west, 
Franche-Comte, with its flat, outstretched and wood-covered 
hills, shut in the whole horizon ; in the distance, towards the 
north- west, one single mass stood out distinct from all the rest. 
Straight before us, however, was a beautiful object. This was 
the peak which gives this summit the name of a tooth. It de- 
scends precipitously, or rather with a slight cm-ve, inwards, and 
in the bottom it is succeeded by a small valley of jpine- trees, with 
beautiful grassy patches here and there, while right beyond it 
lies the valley of the Orbe (Val-orbe), where you see this stream 
coming out of the rock, and can trace, in thought, its route 
backwards to the smaller lake. The little town of Valorbe, 
also lies in this valley. Most reluctantly we quitted the spot. 
A delay of a few hours longer, (for the mist generally disperses 
in about that time), would have enabled us to distinguish the 
low lands with the lake — but in order that our enjoyment should 
be perfect, we must always have something behind still to be 
vrished. As we descended we had the v/hole valley lying 
perfectly distinct before us. At Le Pont we again mounted 
€ur horses, and rode to the east side of the lake, and passed 
through I'Abbaye de Joux, which at present is a village, but 



THE DOLE. 189 

once was a settlement of monks, to whom the whole valley be- 
longed. Towards four, we reached our auberge and found our 
meal ready, of which we were assured by our hostess that at 
twelve o'clock it would have been good eating, and which, 
overdone as it was, tasted excellently. 

Let me now add a few particulars just as they were told 
me. As I mentioned just now, the valley belonged formerly 
to the monks, who having divided it again to feudatories, were 
with the rest ejected at the Reformation. At present it 
belongs to the Canton of Berne, and the moimtains around are 
the timber- stores of the Pays de Vaud. Most of the timber 
is private property, and is cut up under supervision, and then 
carried down into the plains. The planks are also made here 
into deal utensils of all kinds, and pails, tubs, and similar 
articles manufactured. 

The people are civil and well disposed. Besides their trade 
in Avood, they also breed cattle. Their beasts are of a small 
size. The cheese they make is excellent. They are very 
industrious, and a clod of earth is with them a great treasure. 
We saw one man with a horse and car, carefully collecting the 
earth which had been thrown up out of a ditch, and carrying 
it to some hollow places in the same field. They lay the 
stones carefully together, and make little heaps of them. 
There are here many stone-polishers, who work for the Gene- 
vese and other tradesmen, and this business furnishes occu- 
pation for many women and children. The houses are neat 
but dm-able, the form and internal arrangements being de- 
termined by the locality and the wants of the inmates. Before 
every house there is a running stream, and everywhere you 
see signs of industry, activity, and wealth. But above all 
things is the highest praise due to the excellent roads, which, 
in this remote region, as also in all the other cantons, are 
kept up by that of Berne. A causeway is carried all round 
the valley, not unnecessarily broad, but in excellent repair, so 
that the inhabitants can pursue their avocations without in- 
convenience, and with their small horses and light carts pass 
easily along. The air is very pure and salubrious. 

2Qth Oct. — Over om- breakfast we deliberated as to the 
road we should take on oiu' return. As we heard that the 
Dole, the highest summit of the Jm-a, lay at no great distance 
from the upper end of the valley, and as the weather promised 
to be most glorious, so that we might to-day hope to enjoy 



190 LETTERS FKOM SWITZEHLANB. 

all tliat Ciiance denied us yesterday, we finally determined to 
tajie this route. We loaded a guide witli bread and cheese, 
and butter and wine, and by 8 o'clock mounted our horses. 
Our route now lay along the upper part of the va!ley, in the 
shade of Noir Mont. It was extremely cold, and there had 
been a sharp hoar-frost. We had still a good league to ride 
through the part belonging to Berne, before the causeway 
which there terminates branches off into two parts. Through 
a little wood of pine trees we entered the French territory. 
Here the scene changed greatly. What first excited our 
attention was the wretched roads. The soil is rather stony ; 
everywhere you see great heaps of those which have been 
picked off the fields. Soon you come to a part which is very 
marshy and full of springs. The woods all around you are 
in wretched condition. In all the houses and people you recog- 
nise, I will not say want, but certainly a hard and meagre sub- 
sistence. They belong, almost as serfs, to the canons of S. 
Claude; they are bound to the soil {glehce astricti), and are 
oppressed with imposts {sujets a la iniain-morte et au droit de 
la suite), of which we will hereafter have some talk together, as 
also of a late edict of the king's repealing the droit de la suite, 
and inviting the owners and occupiers to redeem the main-morte 
for a certain compensation. But still even this portion of the 
valley is well cultivated. The people love their country dearly, 
though they lead a hard life, being driven occasionally to steal 
the wood from the Bernese, and sell it again in the lowlands. 
The first division is called the Bois d'Amant; after passing 
through it, we entered the parish of Les Rousses, where we saw 
before us the little Lake des Bousses and Les Sept Moncels,— 
seven small hills of different shapes, but all connected together, 
which form the southern limit of the valley. We soon came 
upon the new road which runs from the Pays de Vaud to Paris. 
We kept to this for a mile downwards, and now left entirely 
the valley. The bare summit of the Dole was before us. We 
alighted from our horses, and sent them on by the road towards 
S. Cergue while we ascended the Dole. It was near noon ; 
the sun felt hot, but a cool south wind came now and then to 
refresh us. When we looked round for a halting-place, we 
had behind us Les Sept Moncels, we could still see a part of 
the Lac des Bousses, and around it the scattered houses of the 
parish. The rest of the valley was hidden from our eye by 
the Noir Mont, above which we again saw our yesterday's 



VIEW PKOM THE DOLE. 191 

^iew of Franche-Comte, and nearer at hand southwards, the last 
summits and valleys of the Jura. We carefully avoided taking 
advantage of a little peep in the hill, which would have given 
us a glimpse of the country, for the sake of which in reality 
our ascent was undertaken. I was in some anxiety about the 
mist; however, from the aspect of the sky above, I drew a 
favourable omen. At last we stood on the highest summit, 
and saw with the greatest delight that to-day we were in- 
dulged with all that yesterday had been denied us. The whole 
of the Pays de Vaux and de Gex lay like a plan before us : 
aU the different holdings divided off with green hedges like 
the beds of a parterre. We were so high that the rising 
and sinking of the landscape before us was unnoticeable. 
Villages, little towns, coimtry-houses, vine-covered hiUs, and 
higher up stiU, where the forests and Alps begin, the cow- 
sheds mostly painted white, or some other light colour, all 
glittered in the sunshine. The mist had already roUed off 
from Lake Leman. We saw the nearest part of the coast on 
our side, quite clear ; of the so-called smaller lake, where the 
larger lake contracts itself, and turns towards Geneva, which 
was right opposite to us, we had a complete view ; and on 
the other side the country which shuts it in was gradually 
clearing. But nothing could vie with the view of the moun- 
tains covered with snow and glaciers. We sat down before 
some rocks to shelter us from the cold wind, with the sunshine 
fuU upon us, and highly relished our little meal. We kept 
watching the mist, which gradually retired ; each one disco- 
vered, or fancied he discovered, some object or other. One by 
one we distinctly saw Lausanne, surrounded with its houses, and 
gardens ; then Bevay, and the castle of ChiUon ; the mountains, 
which shut out from our view the entrance into Valais, and 
extended as far as the lake ; from thence the borders of Savoy, 
Evian, Repaille, and Tonon, with a sprinkling of villages and 
farm-houses between them. At last Geneva stood clear from 
the mist, but beyond and towards the south, in the neighbom*- 
hood of Monte Credo and Monte Vauche, it still hung immove- 
able. When the eye turned to the left it caught sight of the 
whole of the lowlands from Lausanne, as far as Solothurn, 
covered with a light halo. The nearer mountains and heights, 
and every spot that had a white house on it, could be closely dis- 
tinguished. The guides pointed out a ghmmering which they 



192 IiETTEHS mOM SWITZEELAIJU. 

paid was tlie castle of Chauvan, which lies to the left of tha 
Neiiberger-See. We were just able to guess whereabouts it lay, 
but could not distinguish it through the bluish haze. There 
are no words to express the grandeur and beauty of this view. 
At the moment every one is scarcely conscious of what he 
sees: — one does but recall the names and sites of well-known 
cities and localities, to rejoice in a vague conjecture that he 
recognizes them in certain white spots which strike his eye 
in the prospect before him. 

And then the line of glittering glaciers was continually draw- 
ing the eye back again to the mountains. The sun made his 
way towards the west, and. lighted up their great flat surfaces, 
which were turned towards us. How beautifully before them 
rose from above the snow the variegated rows of black rocks : — > 
teeth, — towers,- — ^walls ! Wild, vast, inaccessible vestibules ! 
and seeming to stand there in the free air in the first purity 
and freshness of their manifold variety! Man gives up at 
once all pretensions to the infinite, while he here feels that 
neither with thought nor vision is he equal to the finite ! 

Before us we saw a fruitful and populous plain. The spot 
on which we were standing was a high, bare mountain rock, 
which, however, produces a sort of grass as food for the cattle, 
which are here a great source of gain. This the conceited 
lord of creation may yet make his own: — but those rocks be- 
fore his eyes are like a train of holy virgins which the spirit of 
heaven reserves for itself alone in these inaccessible regions. 
We tarried awhile, tempting each other in turn to try and 
discover cities, mountains, and regions, now with the naked 
eye, now with the telescope, and did not begin to descend till 
the setting sun gave permission to the mist, — his o^TD. part- 
ing breath,— to spread itself over the lake. 

With sunset we reached the ruins of the fort of S. Cergue. 
Even when we got down in the valley, our eyes were still 
rivetted on the mountain glaciers. The furthest of these, 
lying on our left in Oberland, seemed almost to be melting 
into a light fiery vapour ; those still nearer stood with their 
sides towards us, stiU glowing and red •, but by degrees they 
became white, green, and grayish. There was something 
melancholy in the sight. Like a poAverful body over which 
death is gradually passing from the extremities to the heart, 
so the whole range gradually paled away as far as Mont 



GENEYA. 193 

Blanc, whose ampler bosom ^yas still covered all over witn a 
deep red blush, and even appeared to us to retain a reddish 
tint to the very last, — ^just as when one is watching the death 
of a dear friend, life still seems to linger, and it is difficult to 
determine the very moment when the pulse ceases to beat. 

This time also we were very loth to depart. We found oui" 
horses in S. Cergue ; and that nothing might be wanting to our 
enjoyment, the moon rose and lighted us to Nyon. While on 
the way, our strained and excited feeHngs were gradually 
calmed, and assumed their wonted tone, so that we were able 
mth keen gratification to enjoy, from our inn window, the 
glorious moonlight which w^as spread over .the lake. 

At difierent &23ots of our travels so much was said of the 
remarkable character of the glaciers of Savoy, and when we 
reached Geneva we were told it was becoming more and more 
the fashion to visit them, that the Count''^' was seized with a 
strange desire to bend our course in that direction, and from 
Geneva to cross Cluse and Salenche, and enter the valley of 
Chamouni, and after contemplating its wonderful objects, 
to go on by Valorsine and Trent into Valais. This route, 
however, which vv^as the one usually pursued by travellers, was 
thought dangerous in this season of the year. A visit was 
therefore paid to M. de Saussure at his country-house, 
and his advice requested. He assured us that we need not 
hesitate to take that route ; there was no snow as yet on the 
middle-sized mountains, and if on our road we were attentive 
to the signs of the weather and the advice of the country- 
people, who were seldom wrong in their judgment, w^e might 
enter upon this jouimey with perfect safety. Here is the copy 
of the journal of a day's hard travelling. 



Cluse, in Savoy, Nov. 3, 1779. 
To-day on departing from Geneva oui- party divided. The 
Count with me and a huntsman took the route to Savoy. 
Friend W. with the horses proceeded through the Pays do 
Vaud for Valais. In a light four-wheeled cabriolet we pro- 
ceeded first of all to visit Hliber at his country-seat,— a man 
out of whom, mind, imagination and imitative tact, oozes ac 

* The Duke Charles Augustus of Weimar^ who trarelled under tec 
title of Count of ... . 

Vol. II. o 



194 LETTERS PKOM SWITZERLAl^D. 

every pore,— -one of the very few thorough men we have met 
with. He saw us well on our way, and then we set off with 
the lofty snow-capped mountains, which we wished to reach, 
before our eyes. From the Lake of Geneva the mountain- 
chains verge towards each other to the point where Bonneville 
lies, half way between the Mole, a considerable mountain, and 
the Arve. There we took our dinner. Behind the town the 
valley closes right in. Although not very broad, it has the 
Arve flowing gently through it, and is on the southern side well 
cultivated, and everywhere the soil is put to some profit. From 
the early morning we had been in fear of its raining some time 
at least before night, but the clouds gradually quitted the moun- 
tains, and dispersed into fleeces, — -a sign' which has more than 
once in our experience proved a favourable omen. The air 
was as warm as it usually is in the beginning of September, 
and the country we traveRed through beautiful. Many of the 
trees being still green ; most of them had assumed a brownish- 
yellow tint, but only a few were quite bare. The crops were 
rich and verdant; the mountains caught from the red sunset 
a rosy hue, blended with violet ; and all these rich tints 
were combined with grand, beautiful, and agreeable forms 
of the landscape. We talked over much that was good. 
Towards 5 we came towards Cluse, where the valley closes, and 
has only one outlet, through which the Arve issi;es from the 
mountains, and by which also we propose to enter them 
to-morrow. We ascended a lofty eminence, and saw be- 
neath us the city, partly built on the slightly inclined side of 
ji rock, but partly on the flat portion of the valley. Our eyes 
ranged with pleasure over the valley, and sitting on the 
granite rocks we awaited the coming of night in calm and 
varied discourse. Towards seven, as we descended, it was 
not at all colder than it is usually in summer about nine. At 
a miserable inn (where, however, the people were ready and 
willing, and by their patois afforded us much amusement) we 
are now going, about ten o'clock, to bed, intending to set out 
early to-morrow, before the morning shall dawn. 



Salenche, Nov. 4, 1779. Noon, 
Whilst a dinner is being prepared by very willing hands, 
I will attempt to set down the most remarkable incidents of 
our yesterday's journey, which commenced with the early 



THE CAVEKN OF THE COL DE BALME. 195 

morning. With break of day we set out on foot from Cluse, 
taking the road towards Balme. In the valley the air was 
agreeably fresh; the moon, in her last quarter, rose bright 
before the sun, and charmed us with the sight, as being one 
which w^e do not often see. Single light vapom^s rose upwards 
from all the chasms in the rocks. It seemed as if the morning 
air were awakening the young spirits, who took pleasure in 
meeting the sim with expanded bosoms and gilding them in 
his rays. The upper heaven was perfectly clear ; except where 
now and then a single cloudy streak, which the rising sun lit 
up, swept lightly across it. Balme is a miserable village, not 
far from the spot where a rocky gorge runs off from the road. 
We asked the people to guide us through the cave for which 
the place is famous. At this they kept looking at one 
another, tiU at last one said to a second, "Take you the 
ladder, I will carry the rope, — come, gentlemen." T^rL^ 
strange invitation did not deter us from following then. 
Our Sne of descent passed first of all among fallen masses of 
limestone rock, which by the course of time had been piled 
up step by step in front of the precipitous waU. of rock, and 
were now overgrown with bushes of hazel and beech. Over 
these you reach at last the strata of the rock itself, which 
you have to climb up slowly and painfully by means of the 
ladder and of the steps cut into the rock, and by help of 
branches of the nut-trees, which hung over head, or of 
pieces of rope tied to them. After this you find yourself, to 
your great satisfaction, in a kind of portal, which has been worn 
out of the rock by the weather, and overlooks the valley and 
the village below. We now prepared for entering the cave ; 
lighted our candles and loaded a pistol w^hich we proposed to 
let off. The cave is a long gallery, mostly level and on one 
strand; in parts broad enough for two men to walk abreast, 
in others only passable by one; now high enough to walk 
upright, then obliging you to stoop, and sometimes even to 
crawl on hands and feet. Nearly about the middle a cleft 
runs upwards and forms a sort of a dome. In one corner ano- 
ther goes do-wmwards. We threw several stones down it, and 
counted slowly from seventeen to nineteen before it reached 
the bottom, after touching the sides many times, but always 
with a different echo. On the walls a stalactite fonns its 
various devices; however it is only damp in a very few places^ 

o 2 



195 LETTEKS TEOM SWITZERLAND. 

and forms for tlie most part long drops, and not those ricli and 
rare shapes which are so remarkable in Baumann's cave. We 
penetrated as far as we could for the water, and as we came 
out let off our pistol, which shook the cave with a strong but 
dull echo, so that it boomed round us like a bell. It took u§ 
a good quarter of an hour to get out again, and on descend- 
ing the rocks, we found our carriage and drove onwards. 
At Staubbachs-Art we saw a beautiful waterfall; neither 
its height was very great nor its volume very large, and yet it 
was extremely interesting, for the rocks formed around it, 
as it w^ere, a circular niche in which, its waters fell, and the 
pieces of the limestone as they were tumbled one over another 
formed the most rare and im.usual groups. 

We arrived here at mid-day, not quite hungry enough to 
relish our dinner, which consisted of warmed fish, cow beef, 
and very stale bread. From this place there is no road 
leading to the mountains that is passable for so stately an 
equipage as we have with us ; it therefore returns to Geneva, 
and I now must take my leave of jou, in order to pursue my 
route a little further. A mule with my luggage will follow 
us as we pick our way on foot. 



Chamouni, Nov. 4, 1779. 
Evening, about 9 o'clock. 

It is only because this letter will bring me for awhile nearer 
to yourself that I resume my pen; otherwise it would be 
better for me to give my mind a little rest. 

We left Salenche behind us in a lovely open valley ; during 
our noonday's rest the sky had become overcast with white 
fleecy clouds, about which I have here a special remark to 
make. We had seen them on a bright day rise equally fine, 
if not still finer, from the glaciers of Berne. Here too it 
again seemed to us as if the sun, had first of all attracted the 
light mists which evaporated from the tops of the glaciers, 
and then a gentle breeze had, as it were, combed the fine 
vapours, like a fleece of foam over the atmosphere. I never re- 
member at home, even in the height of summer, (when such 
phenomena do also occur with us,) to have seen any so trans- 
parent, for here it was a perfect web of light. Before long 
the ice-covered mountains from which it rose lay before us; the 



THE VALLEY OF CHAMOTJNI MOKT BLANC. 197 

valley began to close in ; the Arve was gusliing out of the 
rock ; we now began to ascend a mountain, and went up higher 
and higher, with the snoAvj^ summits right before ns. Moun- 
tains and old pine forests, either in the hollows below or on 
a level with our track, came out one by one before the eye 
as we proceeded. On our left were the mountain-peaks, bare 
and pointed. We felt that we were approaching a mightier 
and more massive chain of mountains. We passed over a 
dry and broad bed of stones and gravel, which the water- 
courses tear doAvn from the sides of the rocks, and in tm-n 
flow among and fill up. This brought us into an agreeable 
valley, flat, and shut in by a circular ridge of rocks, in which 
lies the Httle village of Serves. There the road runs round 
some very highly variegated rocks, and takes again the direc- 
tion towards the Arve. After crossing the latter you again 
ascend; the masses become constantly more imposing, nature 
seems to have begun here with a light hand, to prepare 
her enormous creations. The darkness grew deeper and 
deeper as we approached the valley of Chamouni, and when at 
last we entered it, nothing but the larger masses were dis- 
cernible. The stars came out one by one, and we noticed 
above the peaks of the summits right before us, a light which 
we could not account for. Clear, but without brilliancy, like 
the milky way, but closer, something like that of the Pleiades; 
it rivetted our attention until at last, as our position changed, 
like a pyramid illuminated by a secret light within, which 
could best be compared to the gleam of a glow-worm, it 
towered high above the peaks of all the surrounding mountains, 
and at last convinced us that it must be the peak of Mont 
Blanc. The beauty of this view was extraordinary. Foi 
while, together with the stars which clustered round it, it 
glimmered, not indeed with the same twinkling light, but in 
a broader and more continuous mass, it seemed to belong to a 
higher sphere, and one had difficulty in thought to fix its 
roots again in the earth. Before it we saw a line of snowy 
summits, sparkling as they rested on the ridges covered "svith 
the black pines, while betvv^een the dark forests vast glaciers 
sloped down to the valley below. 

My descriptions begin to be irregular and forced; in fact, 
one wants two persons here, one to see and the other tj 
describe. 



198 LETTERS ERON SWITZERLAND. 

Here we are in the middle village of the valley called " Le 
Prieure," comfortably lodged in a house, which a widow 
caused to be built here in honour of the many strangers who 
visited the neighbourhood. We are sitting close to the 
hearth, relishing our Muscatel wine from the Vallee d'Aost 
far better thar^ the lenten dishes which were served up fo 
our dinner. 



Nov. 5, 1779. Evening. 

To take up one's pen and write, almost requires as grea^ 
an effort as to take a swim in the cold river. At this mo- 
ment I have a great mind to put you off, by referring you to 
the description of the glaciers of Savoy, given by that enthu- 
siastic climber Bourritt. 

Invigorated however by a few glasses of excellent wine, 
and by the thought that these pages will reach you much 
sooner than either the travellers or Bourritt's book, I will do 
my best. The valley of Chamouni, in which we are at pre- 
sent, lies very high among the mountains, and, from six to 
seven leagues long, rmis pretty nearly from south to north. 
The characteristic features which to my mind distinguish it 
from all others, are its having scarcely any flat portion, but 
the whole tract, like a trough, slopes from the Arve gradually 
up the sides of the mountain. Mont Blanc and the line of 
mountains which runs off from it, and the masses of ice which 
fill up the immense ravines, make up the eastern wall of the 
valley, on which, throughout its entire length, seven glaciers, 
of which one is considerably larger than the others, run 
down to the bottom of the valley. 

The guides whom we had engaged to show us to the ice-lake 
came to their time. One was a young active peasant, the 
other much older, who seemed to think himself a very shrewd 
personage, who had held intercourse with all learned fo- 
reigners, well acquainted with the nature of the ice -moun- 
tains, and a very clever fellow. He assured us that for 
eight and twenty years, — so long had he acted as guide over 
the mountains, — this was the first time that his services had 
been put in requisition so late in the year — after All Saints' 
Day, and yet that we might even now see every object quite 
as well as in June. Provided with wine and food we began to 



THE ICE-LAKE. 199 

ascend Mont Anvert, from which we were told the view of 
the ice-lake would be quite ravishing. Properly I should 
call it the ice-valley or the ice-stream ; for looking at it from 
above, the huge masses of ice force themselves out of a deep 
valley in tolerable smoothness. Right behind it ends a 
sharp-pointed mountain, from both sides of which waves of 
ice run frozen into the principal stream. Not the slightest 
trace of snow was as yet to be seen on the rugged surfaces, 
and the blue crevices glistened beautifully. The weather by 
degrees became overcast, and I saw grey wa^y clouds, which 
seemed to thi-eaten snow, more than it had ever yet done. 
On the spot where we were standing is a small cabin, 
built of stones, loosely piled together as a shelter for travel- 
lers, which in joke has been named " The Castle of Mont 
Anvert." An Englishman, of the name of Blaire, who is 
residing at Geneva, has caused a more spacious one to be built 
at a more convenient spot, and a little higher up, where, 
sitting by a fire-side, you catch through the window a view 
of the whole Ice- Valley. The peaks of the rocks over against 
you, as also in the valley below, are very pointed and rugged. 
These jags are called needles, and the Aiguille du Dru is a 
remarkable peak of this kind, right opposite to Mont Anvert. 
We now wished to walk upon the Ice Lake itself, and to con- 
sider these immense masses close at hand. Accordingly we 
climbed down the mountain, and took nearly a hundred steps 
round about on the wave-like crystal cliffs. It is certainly 
a singular sight, when standing on the ice itself, you see 
before you the masses pressing upwards, and divided by 
strangely shaped clefts. However, we did not like standing 
on this slippery surface, for we had neither come prepared 
with ice-shoes, nor with nails in our usual ones ; on the con- 
trary, those which we ordinarily wore had become smooth 
and rounded with our long wallv ; v/e, therefore, made our 
way back to the hut, and after a short rest were ready for 
returning. We descended the mountain, and came to the 
spot where the ice-stream, step by step, forces its way to the 
valley below, and we entered the cavern, into which it 
empties its water. It is broad, deep, and of the most beau- 
tiful blue, and in the cave the supply of water is more inva- 
riable than further on at the mouth, since great pieces of 
ice are constantly melting and dissolving in it. 



200 LETTERS FKOM SWITZERLAND. 

On our road to the Auberge we passed the house where there 
were two Albinos,— children between twelve and fourteen, 
with very white complexions, rough white hair, and with red 
and restless eyes like rabbits. The deep night which hangs 
over the valley invites me to retire early to bed, and I am hardly 
awake enough to tell you, that we have seen a tame young ibex, 
who stands out as distinctly among the goats as the natural 
son of a noble prince from the burgher's family, among whom 
he is privately brought up and educated. It does not sait 
with our discourses, that I should speak of anything out of 
its due order. Besides, you do not take much delight in 
specimens of granite, quartz, or in larch and pine trees, 
yet, most of all, you would desire to see some remarkable 
fruits of our botanising. I think I am stupid with sleep, — 
I cannot vo-'ite another line. 



Chamouni, Nov. 6, 1776. Early. 

Content with seeing all that the early season allows us to 
see, we are ready to start again, intending to penetrate as 
far as Valais to-day. A thick mist covers the whole valley, 
and reaches half way up the mountains, and we must wait 
and see what sun and wind will yet do for us. Om^ guide 
purposes that we should take the road over the Col-de-Balme, 
a lofty eminence, which lies on the north side of the valley 
towards Valais, from the summit of which, if we are lucky, 
we shall be able to take another survey of the valley of 
Chamouni, and of all its remarkable objects. 

Whilst I am writing a remarkable phenomenon is passing 
along the sky. The mists which are shifting about, and break- 
ing in some places, allow you through their openings as through 
skylights, to catch a glance of the blue sky, while at the same 
time the mountain peaks, which rising above om- roof of 
vapour, are illuminated by the sun's rays. Even without the 
hope it gives of a beautiful day, this sight of itself is a rich 
treat to the eye. 

We have at last obtained a standard for judging the heights 
of the mountains. It is at a -considerable height above the 
valley, that the vapour rests on the mountains. At a still 
greater height are clouds, which have floated off upwards 
from the top of the mist, and then far above these clouds 
you, see the summits glittering in the sunshine. 



COL DE BALME. 201 

It is time to go. I must bid farewell to this beautiful 
\^lley and to you. 

Martinac, m Valais^ 
Nov. 6, 1779, Evening 

We have made the passage across without any mishap, and 
EO this adventm-e is over. The joy of our good luck will keep 
my pen going merrily for a good half hour yet. 

Having packed our luggage on a mule, we set out early 
(about 9,) from Prieure. The clouds shifted, so that the peaks 
were now visible and then were lost again ; at one moment 
the sun's rays came in streaks on the vaUey, at the next the 
whole of it was again in shade. "We went up the valley, 
passing the outlet of the ice-stream, then the glacier 
d'Ai'gentiere, which is the highest of the five, the top of it 
however was hidden from our view by the clouds. On the 
plain we held a counsel, whether we should or not take the 
route over Col de Balme, and abandon the road over Yalorsine, 
The prospect was not the most promising ; however, as here 
there was nothing to lose and much perhaps to gain, we 
took our way boldly towards the dark region of mists and 
clouds. As we approached the Glacier du Tour, the clouds 
parted, and we saw this glacier also in full light. We sat 
do-vvn awhile and drank a flask of wine, and took something 
to eat. We now mounted towards the sources of the Arve, 
passing over rugged meadows and patches scantily covered 
with turf, and came nearer and nearer to the region of mists, 
until at last we entered right into it. We went on patiently 
for awhile till at last as we got up higher, it began again to 
clear above our heads. It lasted for a short time, so we passed 
right out of the clouds, and saAV the whole mass of them 
beneath us spread over the valley, and A\'ere able to see the 
summits of all the mountains on the right and left that en- 
closed it, with the exception of Mont Blanc, which was 
coyered with clouds. We Avere able to point them out one 
by one, and to name them. In some we saw the glaciers 
reaching from their summits to their feet, in others we could 
only discern their tracks, as the ice was concealed from 
our view by the rocky sides of the gorges. Beyond the 
'.vhole of the flat surface of the clouds, except at its southern 



202 LETTERS FEOM SWITZERLAND. 

extremity, we could distinctly see the mountains glittering in 
the sunshine. Why should I enumerate to you the names of 
summits, peaks, needles, icy and snowy masses, when their 
mere designations can furnish no idea to your mind, either of 
the whole scene or of its single objects? 

It was quite singular hoAv the spirits of the air seemed to 
be waging war beneath us. Scarcely had we stood a few 
minutes enjoying the grand view, when a hostile ferment 
seemed to arise within the mist, and it suddenly rose upwards 
and threatened once more to envelope us. We commenced 
stoutly ascending the height, in the hope of yet awhile escap- 
ing from it, but it outstripped us and enclosed us on all 
sides. However, perfectly fresh, we continued to mount, 
and soon there came to oiu* aid a strong wind, blowing from 
the mountain. Blowing over the saddle which connected 
two peaks, it drove the mist back again into the valley. 
This strange conflict was frequently repeated, and at last, to 
our joy, we reached the Col de Balme. The view from it 
was singular, indeed unique. The sky above the peaks was 
overcast with clouds ; below, through the many openings in 
the mist, we saw the whole of Chamouni, and between these 
two layers of cloud the mountain summits were all visible. 
On the east we were shut in by rugged mountains, on the 
west we looked down on wild valleys, where, however, on 
every green patch human dwellings were visible. Before us 
lay the valley of Valais, where at one glance the eye took in 
mountains piled in every variety of mass one upon another, and 
stretching as far as Martinac and even beyond it. Surrounded 
on all sides by mountains which, further on towards the 
horizon, seemed continually to multiply and to tower higher 
and higher, we stood on the confines of Valais and Savoy. 

Some contrabandists, who were ascending the mountains 
with their mules, were alarmed at seeing us, for at this 
season they did not reckon on meeting with any one at this 
spot. They fired a shot to intimate that they were armed, 
and one advanced before the rest to reconnoitre. Having 
recognised our guide and seen what a harmless figure we 
made, he returned to his party, who now approached us, a:cd 
we passed one another with mutual greetings. 

The wind now blew sharp, and it began to snow a little as 
we .commenced our descent, which was rough and wild 



VALAIS. 203 

enough, tlii'ough an ancient forest of pines, which had takeu 
root on the faces of the gneiss. Torn up by the winds, the 
trunks and roots lay rotting together, and the rocks which 
were loosened at the same time were lying in rough masses 
among them. 

At last we reached the valley where the river Trent takes 
its rise from a glacier, and passing the village of Trent, close 
upon our right, we followed the windings of the valley along 
a rather inconvenient road, and about six reached Martinac, 
which lies in the flatter portion of the Valais. Here we 
must refresh ourselves for fui'ther expeditions. 



Martinac, Nov. Q, 1779. 
Evening. 

Just as our travels proceed iminterruptedly, so my letters 
one after another keep up my conversation with you. Scarcely 
have I folded and put aside the conclusion of " Wanderings 
through Savoy," ere I take up another sheet of paper in 
order to acquaint you with all that we have further in con- 
templation. 

It was night when we entered a region about which our 
curiosity had long been excited. As yet we have seen nothing 
but the peaks of the mountains, which enclose the valley on 
both sides, and then only in the glimmering of twilight. 
We cj-ept wearily into our auberge, and saw from the window 
the clouds shifting. We felt as glad and comfortable to 
have a roof over our heads, as children do when with stools, 
table-leaves and carpets, they construct a roof near the stove, 
and therein say to one another that outside " it is raining or 
snowing," in order to excite a pleasant and imaginary shud- 
der in their little souls. It is exactly so with us on this 
autumnal evening in this strange and unknown region. 

We learn from the maps that we are sitting in the angle of 
an elbow, fr-om which the smaller part of Valais, running 
almost directly from south to north, and with the Rhone, 
extends to the lake of Geneva, while the other and the larger 
portion stretches from west to east, and goes up the Rhone 
to its yom'ce, the Furca. The prospect of riding through 
the Valais is very agreeable, our only anxiety is how we 
are to cross over into it. First of all, with the view of 



204 LETTERS FEOM SWITZERLAND. 

seeing the lower portion, it is settled that we go to-morrow 
to S. Maurice, where we are to meet our friend, who 
with the horses has gone round by the Pays de Yaud. To- 
morrow evening we think of being here again, and then on 
the next day shall begin to go up the country. If the 
advice of M. de Saussure prevails, we shall perform the route 
to the Furca on horseback, and then back to Brieg over the 
Simplon, where, in any weather, the travelling is good over 
Domo d'Osula, Lago Maggiore, Bellinzona, and then up 
Mount Gotthard. The road is said to be excellent, and every- 
where passable for horses. We should best prefer going over 
the Furca to S. Gotthard, both for the sake of the shorter 
route, and also because this detour through the Italian pro- 
vinces was not within our original plan, but then what could 
we do with our horses ; they could not be made to descend 
the Furca, for in aU probability the path for pedestrians is 
already blocked up by the snow. 

With regard to the Jatter contingency, however, we are 
quite at our ease, and hope to be able, as we have hitherto 
done, to take counsel, from moment to moment, with cir- 
cumstances as they arise. 

The most remarkable object in this inn is a servant-girl, 
who with the greatest stupidity gives herself aU. the airs of 
one of our would-be delicate German ladies. We had a good 
laugh, when after bathing our weary feet in a bath of red 
wine and clay, as recommended by our guide, we had in the 
affected hoyden to wipe them dry. 

Our meal has not refreshed us much, and after supper we 
hope to enjoy oiu* beds more. 



S. Maurice, Nov. 7, 1779. 
Nearly Noon. 

On the road it is my way to enjoy the beautiful views, in 
order that I may call in one by one my absent friends, and 
converse with them on the subject of the glorious objects. 
If I come into an inn it is in order to rest myself, to go back 
in memory and to write something to you, when many a time 
my overstrained faculties would much rather collapse upon 
themselves, and recover their tone in a sort of half sleep. 

This morning we set off at dawn from Mardnac ; a fresh 



TEE WATEHFALl. OF PISSE VACHK. 20S 

breeze was stirring with the day, and we soon passed the old 
castle which stands at the point Avhere the two arms of Valais 
make a sort of Y. The valley is narrow, shut in on its 
two sides by mountains, highly diversified in their forms, and 
which without exception are of a peculiar and sublimely 
beautiful character. We came to the spot where the Trent 
breaks into the valley around some narrow and perpendicular 
rocks, so that one almost doubts whether the river does not 
flow out of the solid rock itself. Close by stands the old 
bridge, which only last year was greatly injured by the 
stream, while not far from it lie immense masses of rock, 
which have fallen very recently from the mountains and 
blocked up the road. The whole group together would make 
an extremely beautiful picturCo At a short distance from the 
old bridge a new wooden one lias been built, and a new road 
been laid down to it. 

We were told that we were getting near the famous water- 
fall of Pisse Vache, and wished heartily for a peep at the 
sun, while the shifting clouds gave us a good hope that our 
wish would be gratified. On the road we examined various 
pieces of granite and of gneiss, which with ail their differ- 
ences seem, nevertheless, to have a common origin. At last 
we stood before the waterfall, which well deserves its fame 
above all others. At a considerable height a strong stream 
Dursts from a cleft in the rock, falling downward into a basin, 
over which the foam and spray is carried far and wide by 
the wind. The sun at this 'moment came forth from the 
clouds, and made the sight doubly vivid. Below in the spray, 
wherever you go, you have close before you a rainbow. If 
3^ou go higher ujd, you still witness no less singular a pheno- 
menon. The airy foaming waves of the upper stream of 
water, as with their frothy vapour, they come in contact with 
the angle of vision at which the rainbow is formed, assume 
a flame-like hue, without giving rise to the pendant form of 
the bow, so that at this point you have before you a con- 
stantly varying play of fire. 

We climbed all round, and sitting down near it, wished 
we were able to spend whole days and many a good houi- of 
our life on this spot. Here too, as in so many other places 
diiring our present tour^ we felt how impossible is was to 



206 LETTERS FEOM SWITZERLAND. 

enjoy and to be fully impressed with grand objects on a pass- 
ing visit. 

We next came to a village where there were some merry 
soldiers, and Ave drank there some new wine. Some of the 
same sort had been set before us yesterday. It looked like 
soap and water ; however, we had rather drink it than their 
sour "this year's" and " two years' old" wine.' When one 
is thirsty nothing comes amiss. 

We saw S. Maurice at a distance; it lies just at the 
point where the valley closes in, so much as to cease to be 
anything more than a mere pass. Over the city, on the left, 
w^e saw a small church with a hermitage close to it, and we 
hope to have an opportunity yet of visiting them both. 

We found in the inn a note from our friend, who has 
stopped at Bee, which is about three quarters of a league 
from this place ; we have sent a messenger to him. The 
Count is gone out for a walk to see the country before us. I 
shall take a morsel to eat, and then set out towards the 
famous bridge and the pass. 



After 1 o'clock. 

I have at last got back from the spot where one could be 
contented to spend whole days together, lounging and loiter- 
ing about without once getting tired, holding converse with 
oneself. 

If I had tc advise any one as to the best route into Valais, 
I should recommend the one from the Lake of Geneva up the 
Rhone. I have been on the road to Bee over the great bridge, 
from which you step at once into the Bernese territority. 
Here the Rhone flows downwards, and the valley near the 
lake becomes a little broader. As I turned round again I 
saw that the rocks near S. Maurice pressed together from 
both sides, and that a small light bridge, with a high arch, 
was thrown boldly across from them over the Rhone, which 
rushes beneath it with its roaring and foaming stream. The 
numerous angles and turrets of a fortress stands close to the 
bridge, and a single gateway commands the entrance into 
Valais. I went over the bridge back towards S. Maurice, 
and even beyond it, in search of a view which I had formerly 
seen a drawing of at Huber's house, and by good luck found it. 



FROM MAETINAC TO SION. 207 

The count is come back. He had gone to meet the horses 
and mounting his grey had outstripped the rest. He says the 
bridge is so light and beautiful that it looks like a horse in the 
act of leaping a ditch. Our friend too is coming, and is quite 
contented with his torn-. He accomplished the distance from 
the Lake of Geneva to Bee in a few days, and we are all de- 
lighted to see one another again. 



Martinac^ towards 9. 
"We were out riding till late at night, and the road seemed 
much longer returning than going, as in the morning, our atten- 
tion had been constantly attracted from one object to another. 
Besides I am for this day, at least, heartily tired of descrip- 
tions and reflections; however, I must try hastily to per- 
petuate the memory of two beautiful objects. It was deep 
twiHght when on our return we reached the waterfall of the 
Pisse Vache. The mountains, the valley, and the heavens 
themselves were dark and dusky. By its greyish tint and 
unceasing mm-mur you could distinguish the falling stream 
from all other objects, though you could scarcely discern the 
slightest motion. Suddenly the summit of a very high peak 
allowed just like molten brass in a furnace, and above it rose 
a red smoke. This singular phenomenon was the effect of 
the setting sun which illuminated the snow and the mists 
which ascended from it. 



Sion.Nov. 8, 1779. 
about 3 o'clock. 
This morning we missed our way riding, and were delayed 
in consequence, three hours at least. We set out from 
Martinac before dawn, in order to reach Sion in good time. 
The weather was extraordinarily beautiful, only that the sun 
being low in the heavens was shut out by the mountains, so 
that the road, as we passed along, was entirely in the shade. 
The view, however, of the marvellously beautiful valley of 
Valais brought up many a good and cheerful idea. We had 
ridden for full three hours along the high road with the 
Rhone on our left, when we saw Sion before us ; and we were 
beginning to congratulate ourselves on the prospect of sooa 



208 LETTEllS FBOM SWITZERLAND. 

ordering our noon- day's meal, when we found that the bridge 
we ought to cross had been carried away. Nothing remained 
for us, we were told by the people who were busy repairing 
it, but either to leave our horses and go by a foot-path which 
ran across the rocks, or else to ride on for about thi^ee miles, 
and then cross the Rhone by some other bridges. We chose 
the latter ; and we would not suffer any ill ^humour to get 
possession of us, but determined to ascribe this mischance to 
the interposition of our good genius, who intended to take us 
a slow ride through this interesting region with the advantage 
of good day-light. Everywhere, indeed, in this narrow 
district, the Rhone makes sad havoc. In order to reach the 
other bridges we were obliged, for more than a league and a 
half, to ride over sandy patches, which in the various inunda- 
tions are constantly shifting, and are useful for nothing but 
alder and willow beds. At last we came to the bridges, 
which were wretched, tottering, long, and composed of rotten 
timbers. We had to lead our horses over one by one, and 
with extreme caution. We were now on the left side of the 
Valais and had to tm^n backwards to get to Sion. The road 
itself was for the most part wretched and stony; every step, 
however, opened a fresh view, which was well worth a 
painting. One, however, was particularly remarkable. The 
road brought us up to a castle, below which there was spread 
out the most lovely scene that yve had seen in the whole road. 
The mountains nearest to us run down on both sides slantingly 
to the level ground, and by their shape gave a kind of per- 
spective effect to the natural landscape. Beneath us was the 
Valais in its entire breadth from mountain to mountain, so 
that the eye could easily take it in ; the Rhone, with its ever- 
varying windings and bushy banks was flowing past villages, 
meadows, and richly cultivated highlands ; in the distance you 
saw the Castle of Sion, and the various hills which begin to 
rise behind it ; the farthest horizon was shut in, amphitheatre 
like, with a semicircular range of snow-capped mountains which, 
like all the rest of the scene, stood glittering in the sun's 
meridian splendour. Disagreeable and rough was the road 
we had to ride over; we therefore enjoyed the more, perhaps, 
the still tolerably green festoons of the vines which over-arched 
it. The inhabitants, to whom every spot of earth is precious, 
plant their grape-vines close against the walls which dividp 



SION SETTEES. 209 

their little holdings from the road, where they grow to an 
extraordinary thickness, and by means of stakes and trellises 
are trained across the road so as almost to form one con- 
tinuous arbour. The lower grounds were principally mea - 
dows: in the neighbourhood of Sion, however, we notic(*TJ 
some tillage. Towards this to^vn the scenery is extremely 
diversified by a variety of hills, and we wished to be able to 
make a longer stay in order to enjoy it. But the hideousness 
of the toTvm and of the people fearfully disturb the pleasant 
impression which the scenery leaves. The most frightful 
goitres put me altogether out of humour. We cannot well 
put our horses any further to-day, and therefore we thinli oi 
going on foot to Seyters. Here in Sion the inn is disgusting, 
and the whole town has a dirty and revolting appearance. 



Beijters, Nov. 8, 1779. 
Night. 
As evening had begmi to fall before w^e set out from Sion, 
we reached here at night, with the sky above us clear and 
starry. We have consequently lost many a good view — that 
I know well. Particularly we should have liked to have 
ascended to the Castle of Tourbillon, which is at no great 
distance from Sion; the view from it must be imcommonly 
beautiful. A guide whom we took with us skilfully guided 
us through some wTetched low lands, w^here the water was 
out. We soon reached the heights, and had the Ehone below 
us on our right. By talking over some astronomical matters 
we shortened our road, and have taken up our abode here 
with some very worthy people, who are doing their best to 
entertain us. When we think over what we have gone 
through, so busy a day, with its many incidents and sights, 
seems almost equal to a w^hole week. I begin to be quite 
sorry that I have neither time nor talent to sketch at leas*: 
the outlines of the most remarkable objects ; for that woulff. 
be much better for the absent than all descriptions. 



Seyters, Nov. 9, 1779. 



"Beiisre we set out I can just bid you good morning. The 
C^mit is going with me to the mountains on the left, tow^ards 
Vol. II. p 



210 I^ETTEHS FKOM SWITZEIILA.ND. 

Leukerbad; oiu- friend will, in the meantime, stay bere with 
the horses, and join us to-morrow at Leuk. 



Leulierhad, Nov. 9, 1779. 
At the Foot of Mount Gemmi. 

In a little wooden house where we have been friendlily 
received by some -very worthy people, we are sitting in a 
small, low room, and trying how much of to-day's highly 
interesting tour can be communicated in words. Starting 
from Seyters very early we proceeded for three leagues up the 
mountains, after having passed large districts laid waste by 
the mountain torrents. One of these streams will suddenly 
rise and desolate an extent of many miles, covering with 
fragments of rock and gravel the fields, meadows, and gardens, 
which (at least wherever possible) the people laboriously set 
to work to clear, in order within two generations, perhaps, to 
be again laid waste. We have had a grey day, with every 
now and then a glimpse of sunshine. It is impossible to 
describe how infinitely variegated the Valais here again 
becomes; the landscape bends and changes every moment, 
j^ooking around you all the objects seem to lie close together, 
and yet they are separated by great ravines and hills. Gene- 
rally we had had the open part of the vaUey below us, on the 
right, when suddenly we came upon a spot which commanded 
a most beautiful view over the mountains. 

In order to render more clear what it is I am attempting to 
describe, I must say a few words on the geographical position 
of the district in which we are at present. We had now for 
three hours been ascending the mountainous region which 
separates Valais fi:om Berne. This is, in fact, the great track 
of mountains which runs in one continuous chain from the 
Lake of Geneva to Mount S. Gothard, and on which, as it 
passes through Berne, rest the great masses of ice and snow. 
Here ahove and heloiv are but the relative terms of the moment. 
I say, for instance, beneath me lies a village — and in aU pro- 
bability the level on which it is built is on a precipitous 
summit, which is far higher above the valley below, than I am 
above it. 

As we turned an angle of the road and rested awhile at a 
hermitage, we saw beneath ns, at the end Df a lovely green 



INDEX THE GEMMI. 211 

meadowland, ^Yllicll stretched along the brink of an enor- 
mous chasm, the village of Inden, with its white church 
exactly in the middle of the landscape, and built altogether 
on the slope of the hill-side. Beyond the chasm another line 
of meadow lands and pine forests went upwards, while right 
behind the village a vast cleft in the rocks ran up the sum- 
mit. On the left hand the mountains came right down to 
us, while those on om- right stretched far away into the 
distance, so that the little hamlet, with its white church, 
formed as it were the focus towards which the many rocks, 
ravines, and mountains all converged. The road to Inden is 
cut out of the precipitous side of the rock, which, on your 
left going to the village, lines the amphitheatre. It is not 
dangerous although it looks frightful enough. It goes down 
on the slope of a rugged mass of rocks, separated from the 
yawning abyss on the right, by nothing but a few poor 
planks. A peasant with a mule, who was descending at the 
game time as ourselves, whenever he came to any dangerous 
points caught his beast by the tail, lest the steep descent 
should cause him to slip, and roll into the rocks below. At 
last we reached Inden. As our guide was well knoAvn there, he 
easily managed to obtain for us, from a good-natured dame, 
some bread and a glass of red wine, for in these parts there 
are no regular inns. 

We now ascended the high ravine, behind Inden, where we 
soon saw before us the Gemmiberg (of which we had heard 
such frightful descriptions), with Leukerbad at its foot, lying 
between two lofty, inaccessible, snow-covered mountains, as 
if it were in the hollow of a hand. It was three o'clock, 
nearly, when we arrived there, and oui* guide soon prociored 
us lodgings. There is properly no inn even here, but in con 
sequence of the many visitors to the baths at this place' all 
people have good accommodations. Om- hostess had been 
put to bed the day before, but her husband with an old 
mother and a servant girl, did very creditably the honoui's of 
the house. We ordered something to eat, and went to see 
the warm springs, which in several places burst out of the 
earth with great force, and are received in very clean 
reservoirs. Out of the village, and more towards the moun- 
tains, there are said to be still stronger ones. The water has 
not the slightest smell of sulphur, and neither at it'5 source 

V 2 



212 LETTERS FEOM SWITZEKLAIS'D. 

nor in its channel does it make the least deposit of ochre oir 
of any other earth or mineral, but like any other clear spring 
water it leaves not the slightest trace behind it. As it comes 
out of the earth it is extremely hot, and is famous for its good 
qualities. We had still time for a walk to the foot of the 
Gemmi, which appeared to us to be at no great distance. I 
must here repeat a remark that has been made so often 
already ; that when one is surrounded with mountain scenery 
all objects appear to be extremely near. We had a good 
league to go, amongst fragments of rock which had fallen from 
the heights, and oyer gravel brought down by the torrents, 
before we reached the foot of the Gemmi, where the road 
ascends along the precipitous crags. This is the only pass 
into the canton of Berne, and the sick have to be transported 
along it in sedan chairs. 

If the season did not bid us hasten onwards, in all proba- 
bility we might make an attempt to-morrow to ascend this 
remarkable mountain; as it is, however, we must content 
ourselves with the simple view of it. On our return we saw 
the clouds brewing, which in these parts is a highly interesting 
sight. The fine weather we have hitherto enjoyed has made 
us forget almost entirely that it is in November that we are ; 
besides too, as they foretold us in Berne, the autumn here is 
very delightful. The short days, however, and the clouds 
which threaten snow, warn us how late it is in the year. The 
strange drift which has been agitating them this evening was 
singularly beautiful. As we came back from the foot of the 
Gemmi, we saw light mists come up the ravine from Inden, 
and move with great rapidity. They continually changed 
their direction, going now forwards, now backwards, and at 
last, as they ascended, they came so near to Leukerbad that 
we saw clearly that we must double our steps if we would not 
before nightfall be enveloped in the clouds. We reached our 
quarters, however, without accident, and whilst I write tliis it 
is snowing in earnest. This is the first fall of snov/ that we 
have yet had, and when we call to mind our warm ride 
yesterday, from Martinach to Sion, beneath the vine-arbours, 
which were still pretty thick with leaves, the change does 
appear sudden indeed. I have been standing some time at 
the door, observing the character and look of the clouds, 
which are beautiful beyond description. It is not yet night, 



liEUKERBAD. 213 

but at intervals tlie clouds veil the whole sky and make it 
quite dark. They rise out of the deep ravines until they reach 
the highest summits of the mountains ; attracted by these they 
appear to thicken, and being condensed by the cold they fall 
do^vn in the shape of snow. It gives you an inexpressible 
feeling of loneliness to find yom'self here at this height, as it 
were, in a sort of well, from which you scarcely can suppose 
that there is even a footpath to get out by, except down the 
precipice before you. The clouds which gather here in this 
valley, at one time completely hiding the immense rocks, 
and absorbing them in a waste impenetrable gloom, or at ano- 
ther letting a part of them be seen like huge spectres, give to 
the people a cast of melancholy. In the midst of such 
natural phenomena the people are full of presentiments and 
forebodings. Clouds — a phenomenon remarkable to every 
man from his youth up — are, in the plain countries, generally 
looked upon at most as something foreign — something super- 
terrestrial. People regard them as strangers, as birds of 
passage, which, hatched under a different climate, visit this 
or that country for a moment or two in passing — as splendid 
pieces of tapestry wherewith the gods part off their pomp and 
splendour from human eyes. But here, vv^here they are 
hatched, man is inclosed in them from the very first, and the 
eternal and intrinsic energy of his nature feels itself at every 
nerve moved to forebode and to indulge in presentiments. 

To the clouds, which, with us even produce these effects, 
we pay little attention ; moreover as they are not pushed so 
thickly and directly before our eyes, their economy is the 
more difficult to observe. With regard to all such phenomena 
one's only wish is to dwell on them for a while, and to be 
xible to tarry several days in the spots where they are observ- 
able. If one is fond of such observations the desire becomes 
the more vivid the more one reflects that every season of the 
year, every hour of the day, and every change of weather 
produces new phenomena which we little looked for. And as 
no man, not even the most ordinary character, was ever a 
witness, even for once, of great and unusual events, without 
their lea\ing behind in his soul some traces or other, and 
making him feel himself also to be greater for this one little 
shred of grandeur, so that he is never w^eary of telling the 
^vhole tale of it over again, and has gained at any rate a little 



214 liETTEES PEOM SWITZERLAND. 

treasure for his whole life ; just so is it with the man who has 
seen and become familiar Avitli the grand phenomena of nature. 
He who manages to preserve these impressions, and to combine 
them with other thoughts and emotions, has assuredly a trea- 
sury of sweets wherewith to season the most tasteless parts of 
life, and to give a pervading relish to the whole of existence. 

I observe that in my notes I make very little mention of 
human beings. Amid these grand objects of nature, they are 
but little worthy of notice, especially where they do but come 
and go. I doubt not but that on a longer stay we should 
meet with many worthy and interesting people. One fact I 
think I have everywhere observed; the farther one moves 
from the highroad and the busy marts of men, the more 
people are shut in by the mountains, isolated and confined to 
the simplest wants of life, the more they draw their main- 
tenance from simple, humble, and unchangeable pursuits : so 
much the better, the more obliging, the more friendly, unsel- 
fish, and iiospitable are they. 



Leukerhad, Nov. 10, 1779. 
Wo are getting ready by candle-light, in order to descend 
the mountain again as soon as day breaks. I have had 
rather a restless night. Scarcely had I got into bed before I 
felt as if I was attacked all over with the nettle rash. I soon 
found, however, that it was a swarm of crawling insects, who, 
ravenous of blood, had fallen upon the new comer. These 
insects breed in great numbers in these wooden houses. The 
night appeared to me extremely long, and I was heartily glad 
when in the morning a light was brought in. 



Leuk.^ about 10 o'clock. 
We have not much time to spare ; however, before we set 
out, I will give you an account of the remarkable breaking up 
of our company, which has here taken place, and also of the 
cause of it. We set out from Leukerbad with daybreak this 
morning, and had to make our way over the meadows through 
the fresh and slippery snow. We soon came to Inden, where, 
leaving above us on our right the precipitous road which we 
came down yesterday, we descended to the meadow lands 



LEUK. vlo 

along tlie ra™e wHch now lay on oiu- left. It is extremely 
vyild and overgrown with trees, but a very tolerable road runs 
down into it. Through the clefts in the rock the water w^hich 
comes do^vn from liCukerbad has its outlets into the Valais. 
High up on the side of the hill, which yesterday we descended, 
we saw an aqueduct sldlfuUy cut out of the rock, by which a 
little stream is conducted from the mountain, then through a 
hollow into a neighbom-iiig village. 

Next we had to ascend a steep height, from which we soon 
saw the open coimtry of Valais, with the dirty town of Valais 
lying beneath us. These little towns are mostly stuck on the 
hill sides ; the roofs inelegantly covered with coarsely split 
jDlanks, which within a year become black and overgrovfn with 
moss ; and when you enter them, you are at once disgusted, 
for everything is dirty; Avant and hardship are every^vhere 
apparent among these highly pri^dleged and free bm^ghers. 

We found here our fiiend, who brought the unfavourable 
report that it was beginning to be injudicious to proceed 
further with the horses. The stables were everywhere small 
and narrow, being built only for mules or sumpter horses ; 
oats too were rarely to be procm-ed ; indeed he was told that 
iiigher up among the mountains there were none to be had. 
Accordingly a council was held. Our friend with the horses 
was to descend the Valais and go by Bee, Bevay, Lausanne, 
Freiburg, and Berne, to Lucerne, while the Count and I 
piu'sued our course up the Valais, and endeavoiu-ed to pene- 
trate to Mount Gotthard, and then through the Canton of 
Uri, and by the lake of the Forest Towns, likewise make for 
Lucerne. In these parts you may anywhere procure mules, 
which are better suited to these roads than horses, and to go 
on foot invariably proves the most agreeable in the end. Om* 
&iend is gone, and our portmanteaus packed on the back of 
a mule, and so we are now ready to set off and make oin" 
way on foot to Brieg. The sky has a motley appearance, 
still I hope that the good luck which has hitherto attended 
us, and attracted us to this distant spot, wiU. not abandon us 
at the very point where we have the most need of it. 



21o XETTEES EHOM SWITZEPLAND. 

Brieg, Nov. 10, 1779. 
Evening. 

Of to-day's expedition I have little to tell you, unless you 
would like to be entertained with a long circumstantial account 
of the weather. About 11 o'clock we set off from Leuk., in 
company with a Suabian butcher's boy, who had run away 
hither, and had foimd a place where he served somewhat in 
the capacity of Hanswm-st (Jack-Pudding), and with our 
luggage packed on the back of a mule, which its master was 
driving before him. Behind us, as far as the eye could reach, 
thick snow clouds, which came driving up the lowlands, 
covered everything. It had really a threatening aspect. With- 
out expressing my fears I felt anxious lest, even though right 
before us it looked as clear as it could do in the land of 
Goshen, the clouds might nevertheless overtake us, and here, 
perhaps in the territory of the Valais, shut in on both sides 
by mountains, we might be covered with the clouds, and in 
one night snowed up. Thus whispered alarm which got 
possession almost entirely of one ear; at the other good 
courage was speaking in a confident tone, and reproving me 
for want of faith, kept reminding me of the past, and called 
my attention to the phenomena of the atmosphere before 
us. Our road went continually on towards the fine weather. 
Up the Rhone all was clear, and as a strong west wind kept 
driving the clouds behind us, it was little likely that they 
would reach us. 

The following was the cause of this. Into the valley of 
Valais there are, as I have so often remarked already, many 
ravines running down from the neighbouring mountain- 
chains, which fall into it like little brooks into a great stream, 
as indeed aU their waters flow off into the Rhone. Out of 
each of these openings rushes a current of wind, which has 
been forming in the inner valleys and nooks of the rocks. 
When now the principal drift of the clouds up the valley 
reaches one of these ravines, the cm-rent of the wind does 
not allow the clouds to pass, but contends with them, and 
with the wind which is driving them, and thus detains them, 
and disputes with them for whole hours the passage up the 
valley. This conflict we often witnessed, and when we be- 
lieved we should surely be overtaken by the clouds, an ob- 
etacle of this kind would again arise, and after we had gone 



EEIEG. 217 

a good league, v:e found they had scarcely stirred from the 
spot. 

Towards evening the sky was uncommonly beautiful. As 
we arrived at Brieg, the clouds got there almost as soon as 
we did; however, as the sun had set, and a driving east 
wind blew against them, they were obliged to come to a 
halt, and formed a huge crescent from mountain to moun- 
tain across the vaUey. The cold air had greatly condensed 
them, and where their edge stood out against the blue sky, it 
presented to the eye many beautiful, light, and elegant forms. 
It was quite clear that they were heavy with snow; however, 
the fresh air seemed to us to promise that much would not 
fall during the night. 

Here we are in a very comfortable inn, and what greatly 
tends to make us contented, we have found a roomy chamber 
with a stove in it, so that we can sit by the fire-side and take 
counsel together as to our futm^e travels. Through Brieg 
runs the usual road to Italy over the Simplon ; should we, 
therefore, give up our plan of going over the Fm-ca to Mont 
S. Gothard, we shall go with hired horses and mules to Domo 
d'Ossula, Margozro, pass up Lago Maggiore, and then to 
Bellinzona, and then on to S. Gotthard, and over Airolo to 
the monastery of the Capuchins. This road is passable all 
the winter through, and is good travelling for horses ; how- 
ever, to our minds it is not very inviting, especially as it 
was not in our original plan, and will not bring us to Lucerne 
till five days after our friend. We wish rather to see the 
whole of the Valais up to its extreme limit, whither we hope 
to come by to-morrow evening, and, if fortune favom^s, we 
shall be sitting by about the same time next day in Bealp, in 
the canton of IJri, which is on Mont Gotthard, and very 
near to its highest summit. If we then find it impossible to 
cross the Furca, the road back to this spot wiU still be open 
to us, and then we can take of necessity the route which of 
free choice we are disinclined to. 

You can well believe that I have here closely examined the 
people, whether they believe that the passage over the Furca 
is open, for that is the one idea with which I rise up, and lie 
down to sleep, and occupy myself all day long. Hitherto 
our route may be compared to a march to meet an enemy, 
and now it is as if we were approaching to the spot whert; 



k 



218 TjETTEKS fkom savitzekland. 

he lias entrenched Himself, and we must give him battle. 
Besides our mule two horses are ordered to be ready by tho 
evenino;. 



Munster, Nov. 11, 1779. 
Evening, 6 oi clock. 
Again we have had a pleasant and prosperous day. This 
morning as we set out early and in good time from Brieg 
our host, when we were already on the road said, " If the' 
mountain (so they call the Furca here,) should prove too 
fearful, you can easily come back and take another route." 
With our two horses and mule we soon came upon some 
pleasant meadows, where the valley becomes so narrow that 
it is scarcely some gun-shots wide. Here are some beautiful 
pasture lands, on which stand large trees, while pieces of 
rock lie scattered about which have rolled down from the 
neighbouring mountains. The valley gradually grows nar- 
rower, and the traveller is forced to ascend along the side of 
the mountain, having the while the Rhone below him in a 
rugged ravine on his left. Above him, however, the land is 
beautifully spread out ; on the variously undulating hills are 
verdant and rich meadows and pretty hamlets, which, with 
their dark-brown wooden houses, peep out prettily from 
among the snow. "We travelled a good deal on foot, and we 
did so in turns to accommodate one another. For although 
riding is safe enough, still it excites one's alarm to see 
another riding before you along so narrow a track, and on so 
weak an animal, and just on the brink of so rugged a preci- 
pice ; and as too there are no cattle to be seen on the mea- 
dows, (for the people here shut them all up in sheds at this 
season,) such a region looks lonely, and the thought that 
one is continually being hemmed in closer and closer by the 
vast mountains, fills the imagination with sombre and disa- 
greeable fancies, enough to make you fall from your seat, 
if you are not very firm in the saddle. Man is never perfectly 
master of himself. As he lives in utter ignorance of the 
future, as indeed what the next moment may bring forth is 
hidden from him, consequently, when anything unusual falls 
beneath his notice, he has often to contend with iiivolmitary 
gensations, forebodings, and dream-like fancies, at whicb 



THE LEGEND OP S. ALEXIS. 219 

ghortly afterwards lie may laugh oiitriglit, but wliicli at the 
decisive moment are often extremely oppressive. 

In oiu' noonday quarters we met with some amusement. 
We had taken up our lodgings with a woman in w^hose house 
everything looked neat and orderly. Her room, after the 
fashion of the country, was wainscotted, the beds ornamented 
with car^ang; the cupboards, tables, and all the other little 
repositories which were fastened against the walls or to the 
corners, had pretty ornaments of turner's work or carving. 
From the portraits which hung around the room, it was easy 
to see that several members of the family had devoted them- 
selves to the clerical profession. We also observed a collec- 
tion of boimd books over the door, w^hich we took to be the 
endowment of one of these reverend personages. W^e took 
down the Legends of the Saints, and read it while our meal 
was preparing. On one occasion of our hostess entering the 
room, she asked us if we had ever read the history of S. 
Alexis ? We said no, and took no further notice of her 
question, but went on reading the chapter we each had 
begun. When, however, we had sat down to table, she 
placed herself by our sides, and began again to tails of 
S. Alexis. We asked her whether he was the patron saint of 
herself, or of her family ; which she denied, affirming at the 
same time, however, that this saintly person had undergone 
so much for the love of God, that his history always affected 
her more than any other's. When she saw that we knew 
nothing about him, she began to narrate to us his history. 
" S. Alexis," she said, " was the son of noble, rich, and 
God-fearing parents in Rome, and in the practice of good 
works he delighted to follow their example, for they did 
extraordinary good to the poor. All this, however, did not 
appear enough to Alexis ; but secretly in his own heart he 
devoted himself entirely to God's service, and took a vow to 
Christ of perpetual virginity. AVhen, then, in the course 
of time, his parents wished to marry him to a lovely and 
amiable maiden, he did not oppose their will. When, how- 
ever, the marriage ceremony was concluded, instead of retiring 
to his bed in the nuptial chamber, he went on board a vessel 
which he found ready to sail, and with it passed over to Asia. 
Here he assumed the garb of a wretched mendicant, and 
became thereby so thoroughly disguised that the servants of 



220 LETTERS PROM SWITZERLAND. 

Ills father who had been sent after him. failed to recognise 
him. Here he posted himself near the door of the principal 
church, invariably attending the divine services, and sup- 
porting himself on the alms of the faithful. After two or 
three years various miracles took place, betokening the special 
favour of the Almighty. The bishop heard a voice in the 
church, bidding him to summon into the sacred temple that 
man whose prayer was most acceptable to God, and to keep 
him by his side while he celebrated divine worship. As the 
bishop did not at once know who could be meant, the voice 
went on to point out to him the beggar, whom, to the great 
astonishment of the people, he immediately fetched into the 
church. The saintly Alexis, embarrassed by having the 
attention of the people directed towards himself, quietly and 
silently departed thence, also on ship-board, intending to 
proceed stiU further in foreign lands. But by a tempest and 
other circumstances he was compelled to land in Italy. The 
«aint seeing in aU this the finger of God, was rejoiced to meet 
with an opportunity of exercising self-denial in the highest 
degree. He therefore set off direct for his native town, and 
placed himself as a beggar at the door of his parents' house. 
"With their usual pious benevolence did they receive him, and 
commanded one of their servants to furnish him with lodging 
in the castle and with all necessary sustenance, This servant, 
annoyed at the trouble he was put to, and displeased with his 
master's benevolence, assigned to this seeming beggar a 
miserable hole under some stone steps, where he threw to him, 
as to a dog, a sorry pittance of food. The saint instead of 
suffering himself to be vexed thereat, first of all thanked God 
sincerely for it in his heart, and not only bore with patient 
meekness all this which he might easily have altered, but with 
incredible and superhuman fortitude, endured to witness the 
lasting grief of his parents and his wife for his absence. 
For he heard his much-loved parents and his beautiful spouse 
invoke his name a hundred times a day, and pray for his 
return, and he saw them wasting their days in sorrow for his 
supposed absence." At this passage of her narrative oi^r 
good hostess could not refrain her tears, while her two daugh- 
ters, who during the story had crept close to her side, kept 
steadily looking up in their mother's face. "But," she con- 
tinued, " great was the reward which the Almighty bestowed 



THE LEGEND OF S. ALEXIS. 221 

on his constancy, gmng him, at his death, the greatest pos- 
sible proofs of his favoiu' in the eyes of the faithful. For 
after living several years in this state, daily frequenting the 
service of God with the most fervent zeal, he at last fell sick, 
without any particular heed being given to his condition by 
any one. One morning shortly after this, while the pope was 
himself celebrating high mass, in presence of^the emperor and 
all the nobles, suddenly all the bells in the whole city of Kome 
began to toll as if for the passing knell of some distinguished 
personage. Whilst every one was full of amazement, it was 
revealed to the pope that this marvel was in honour of the 
death of the holiest person in the whole city, who had but 
just died in the house of the noble Patrician. — The father 
of Alexis being interrogated, thought at once of the beggar. 
He went home and found him beneath the stairs quite dead. 
In his folded hands the saintly man clutched a paper, which 
his old father sought in vain to take from him. He retiorned 
to the church and told all this to the emperor and the pope, 
who thereupon, with their courtiers and clergy, set off ta 
visit the corpse of the saint. When they reached the spot, 
the holy father took it without difficulty out of the hands of 
the dead man, and handed it to the emperor, who thereupon 
caused it to be read aloud by his chancellor. The paper con- 
tained the history of the saint. Then you should have seen 
the grief of his parents and wife, which now became excessive, 
to think that they had had near to them a son and husband 
so dear; for whom there was nothing too good that they 
would not have done ; and then too to know how ill he had 
been treated ! They fell upon his corpse and wept so bitterly 
that there was not one of the bystanders who could refrain 
from tears. IMoreover, among the multitude of the people 
who gradually flocked to the spot, there were many sick, who 
were brought to the body and by its touch were made 
whole." 

Our fair story-teller affirmed over and over again, as she 
dried her eyes, that she had never heard a more touching 
history, and I too was seized with so great a desire to weep 
that I had the greatest difficulty to hide and to suppress it. 
After dinner I looked out the legend itself in Father Cochem, 
and found that the good dame had dropped none of the purely 



222 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

human traits of the story, while she had clean forgotten all 
the tasteless remarks of this writer. 

We keep going continually to the window watching the 
weather; and are at present very near offering a prayer to 
the winds and clouds. Long evenings and universal stillness 
are the elements in which writing thrives right merrily, and I 
am convinced that if, for a few months only, I could contrive, 
or were obhged, to stay at a spot like this, all my unfinished 
dramas would of necessity be completed one after another. 

We have already had several people before us, and questioned 
them with regard to the pass over the Furca ; but even here 
we have been unable to gain any precise information, although 
the mountain is only two or three leagues distant. We must, 
however, rest contented, and we shall set out ourselves at break 
of day to reconnoitre, and see how destiny will decide for us. 
However, in general, I may be disposed to take things as they 
go, it would, I must confess, be highly annoying to me if we 
should be forced to retrace our steps again. If we are fortu- 
nate we shall be by to-morrow evening at Realp or S. 
Gotthard, and by noon the next day among the Capuchins at 
the summit of the mountain. If things go unfortunately we 
nave two roads open for a retreat. Back through the whole 
of Valais, and by the well-laio^vn road over Berne to Lucerne; 
or back to Brieg, and then by a wide detour to S. Gotthard. 
I think in this short letter I have told you that three times. 
But in fact it is a matter of great importance to us. The 
issue will decide which was in the right, our courage, which 
gave us a confidence that we must succeed, or the prudence of 
certain persons who were very earnest in trying to dissuade 
us from attempting this route. This much, at any rate, is 
certain, that both prudence and courage must own chance to 
be over them both. And now that we have once more 
examined the weather, and found the air to be cold, the sky 
bright, and without any signs of a tendency to snow, we shall 
go calmly to bed. 



Munster, Nov. 12, 1776. 
Early. 6 o'clock. 
We are quite ready, and all is packed up in order to set 
out from hence with the break of day. We have before us 



THE PASSA.GE OF THE PUIiCA. 223 

two leagues to Oberwald, and from there tlie usual reckoning 
makes six leagues to Realp. Om- mule is to follow us with 
the baggage as far as it is possible to take him. 



Realp, Nov. 12, 1779. 
Evening. 
We reached this place just at nightfall. We have sur- 
mounted all difficulties, and the knots which entangled our 
path have been cut in two. Before I tell you where we are 
lodged, and before I describe to you the character of our 
hosts, allow me the gratification of going over in thought the 
road that we did not see before us without anxiety, and which, 
however, we have left behind us without accident, though not 
without difficulty. About seven we started j&rom Munster, 
and saw before us the snow-covered amphitheatre of moimtain 
summits, and took to be the Furca, the mountain which in 
the background stood obliquely before it. But as we after- 
wards learned, we made a mistake; it was concealed from 
our view by the mountains on our left and by high clouds. 
The east wind blew strong and fought with some snow-clouds, 
chasing the drifts, now over the mountains, now up the valley. 
But this only made the snow drifts deeper on the ground, and 
caused us several times to miss our way ; although, shut in as 
we were on both sides, we could not fail of reaching Oberwald 
eventually. About nine we actually got there, and dropping 
in at an auberge, its inmates were not a little surprised to 
see such characters appearing there this time of the year. 
We asked whether the pass over the Furca were still practi- 
cable, and they answered that their folk crossed it for the 
greater part of the winter, but whether we should be able to 
get across they could not tell. We immediately sent to seek 
for one of these persons as a guide. There soon appeared a 
strong thick-set peasant, whose very look and shape inspired 
confidence. WitJi him we immediately began to treat: if he 
thought the pass was practicable for us, let him say so ; and 
then take one or more comrades and come with us. After a 
short pause he agreed, and went away to get ready himself 
and to fetch the others. In the meantime we paid our 
muleteer the hire of his beast, since we could no longer make 
any use of his mule; and having eaten some bread and cheese 



'^.^4 LETTERS FEOM SAVITZEELAK-1). 

and draiilv a glass of red wine, felt full of strength and spirits, 
as our guide came back, followed by another man who looked 
still bigger and stronger than himself, and seeming to have all 
the strength and courage of a horse, he quickly shouldered our 
portmanteau. And now we set out, a party of five, through 
the village, and soon reached the foot of the mountain, w^hich 
lay on our left, and began gradually to ascend it. At first we 
had a beaten track to follow which came down from a neigh- 
bouring Alp; soon, however, this came to an end, and we 
had to go up the mountain side thi'ough the snow. Our 
guides, with great skill, tracked their way among the rocks, 
around which the usual path winds, although the deep and 
smooth snow had covered all alike. Next our road lay 
through a forest of pines, while the Ehone flowed beneath us 
in a narrow unfruitful valley. Into it we also, after a little 
while, had to descend, and by crossmg a Kttle foot-bridge we 
came in sight of the glacier of the Elione. It is the hugest 
we have as yet had so full a view of. Of very great breadth, 
it occupies the whole saddle of the mountain, and descends 
uninterruptedly down to the point where, in the valley, the 
Rhone flows out of it. At this source the people tell us it 
has for several years been decreasing ; but that is as nothing 
compared with all the rest of the huge mass. Although 
everything was full of snow, stiU the rough crags of ice, on 
which the wind did not allow the snow to lie, were visible 
with their glass blue fissures, and you could see clearly where 
the glacier ended and the snow-covered rock began. To this 
point, which lay on our left, we came very close. Presently 
we again reached a light foot-bridge over a little mountain 
stream, which flowed through a barren trough-shaped valley 
to join the Ehone. After passing the glacier, neither on the 
right, nor on the left, nor before you, was there a tree to be 
seen, all was one desolate waste ; no rugged and prominent 
rocks — nothing but long smooth valleys, slightly inclining 
eminences, which now, in the snow which levelled all inequa- 
lities, presented to us their simple unbroken surfaces. Turnmg 
now to the left we ascended a mountain, sinking at every 
step deep in the snow. One of our guides had to go first, 
and bolcUy treading down the snow break the way by which 
we were to foUow. 

It was a strange sight, when turning for a moment your 



THE PASSAGE OVER THE FUSCA. 225 

attention from the road, you directed it to yourself and your 
fellow travellers. In the most desolate region of the world, 
in a boundless, monotonous wilderness of mountains enveloped 
in snow, where for three leagues before and behind, you 
would not expect to meet a living soul, while on both sides 
you had the deep hollows of a web of mountains, you might 
see a line of men wending their way, treading each in the 
deep footsteps of the one before him, and where, in the 
whole of the wide expanse thus smoothed over, the eye 
could discern nothing but the track they left behind them. 
The hollows as we left them lay behind us gray and bound- 
less in the mist. The changing clouds continually passed 
over the pale disc of the sun, and spread over the whole 
scene a perpetually moving veil. I am convinced that any 
one who, while pursuing this route, allowed his imagination 
to gain the mastery, would even, in the absence of all imme- 
diate danger, fall a victim to his o^vn apprehensions and 
fears. In reality, there is liUlo or no risk of a fall here ; the 
great danger is from the avalanches, when the snow has be- 
come deeper than it is at present, and begins to roll. 
However our guide told us that they cross the mountains 
thi'oughout the winter, carrying from Valais to S. Gotthard 
skins of the chamois, in which a considerable trade is here 
carried on. But then to avoid the avalanches, they do not 
take the route that "we did, but remain for some time longer 
in the broad valley, and then go straight up the mountain. 
This road is safer, but much more inconvenient. After a march 
of about three hours and a-half, we reached the saddle of the 
Fm'ca, near the cross which marks the boundary of Valais 
and Uri. Even here we could not distinguish the double 
peak from which the Furca derives its name. We now- 
hoped for an easier descent, but our guides soon announced 
to us still deeper snow, as we immediately found it to be. 
Our march continued in single file as before, and the fore- 
most man who broke the path often sank up to his waist in 
the snow. The readiness of the people, and their light way 
of speaking of matters, served to keep up om- courage; and 
I will say, for myself, that I have accomplished the journey 
wdthout fatigue, although I cannot say that it was a mere 
walk. The huntsman Hermann asserted that he had often 
before met with equally deep snow in the forests of Thu- 
Voji. II. ^ Q 



226 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

rlngia, but at last he could not help bursting out with a loud 
exclamation, " The Furca is a ." 

A ^Tilture or lammergeier swept over our heads with 
incredible rapidity : it was the only living thing that we had 
met with in this waste. In the distance we saw the moun- 
tains of the Ursi lighted up with the bright sunshine. Our 
guides wished to enter a shepherd's hut which had been 
abandoned and snowed up, and to take something to eat, but 
wcs urged them to go onwards, to avoid standing stiU in the 
cold. Here again is another groupe of valleys, and at last we 
gained an open view into the valley of the Ursi. 

We now proceeded at a shorter pace, and after travelling 
about three leagues and a-half from the Cross, we saw the 
scattered roofs of Realp. We had several times questioned 
our guides as to what sort of an inn, and w^hat kind of wine 
we were likely to find in Realp. The hopes they gave us 
were anything but good, but they assured us that the 
Capuchins there, although they had not, like those on the 
summit of S. Gotthard, an hospice, w^ere in the habit of 
entertaining strangers. With them we should get some good 
red wine, and better food than at an inn. We therefore 
sent one of our party forwards to inform the Capuchins of our 
arrival, and to procure a lodging for us. We did not loiter 
long behind, and arrived very soon after him, when we were 
received at the door by one of the fathers — a portly, good- 
looking man. V/ith much friendliness of manner he invited 
us to enter, and at the threshold begged that we would put up 
with such entertainment they could alone offer, as at no time 
and least of all at this season of the year, were they prepared 
to receive such guests. He therefore led us into a warm 
roora, and was very diligent in waiting upon us, while we 
took off our boots, and changed our linen. He begged us 
once for all to make ourselves perfectly at home. As to our 
meat, we must, he said, be indulgent, for they were in the 
middle of their long fast, which would last till Christmas-day. 
We assured him that a warm room, a bit of bread, and a glass 
of red wine would, in our present circumstances, fully satisfy- 
all our wishes. He procured us w^hat we asked for, and we had 
scarcely refreshed ourselves a little, ere he began to recount to 
us all that concerned the establishment, and the settlement of 
himself and fellows on this waste spot. '* We have not," he 



THE CAPUCHIKS AT KEALP. 227 

said, *' an hospice like the fathers on Mont S. Gotthard, — 
we are here in the capacity of parish priests, and there are 
three of us. The duty of preaching falls to my lot; the 
second father has to look after the school, and the brother to 
look after the household." He went on to describe their 
hardships and toils ; here, at the furthest end of a lonely 
valley, separated from all the world, and working hard to 
very little profit. This spot, like all others, was formerly 
provided with a secular priest, but an avalanche having 
buried half of the viUage, the last one had run away, and 
taken the pix with him, whereupon he was suspended, and 
they, of whom more resignation was expected, were sent 
there in his place. 

In order to write all this I had retired to an upper room, 
which is warmed from below by a hole in the floor; and I 
have just received an intimation that dinner is ready, which, 
notwithstanding our luncheon, is right welcome news. 

About 9. 
The fathers, priests, servants, guides and aU, took 
their dinner together at a common table; the brother, how- 
ever, who superintended the cooking, did not make his 
appearance till dinner was nearly over. Out of milk, eggs, 
and flour he had compounded a variety of dishes, which we 
tasted one after another, and fonnd them all very good. Our 
guides, who took a great pleasure in speaking of the suc- 
cessful issue of our expedition, praised us for our uncommon 
dexterity in travelling, and assured us that it was not every 
one that they would have undertaken the task of being guides 
to. They even confessed also that this morning, when their 
services were required, one had gone first to reconnoitre, and 
to see if we looked like people who would really go through all 
difficulties with them ; for they were particularly cautious how 
they accompanied old or weak people at this time of the year, 
si-nee it was their duty to take over in safety every one they had 
once engaged to guide, being bound in case of his falling sick, 
to carry him, even though it should be at the imminent risk 
of their own lives, and if he were to die on the passage, not to 
leave his body behind. This confession at once opened the 
flood-gates to a host of anecdotes, and each in turn had his 
story to tell of the difficulties and dangers of wandering over 

Q 2 



228 LETTERS mOM SWITZERLAND. 

the mountains amidst whicli the people had here to live as in 
their proper element, so that with the greatest indifference 
they speak of mischances and accidents to which they them- 
selves are daily liable. One of them told a story of how, on 
the Candersteg, on his way to Mount Gemmi, he and a com- 
rade with him (he is mentioned on every occasion with both 
Christian and sur-name) found a poor family in the deep 
snow, the mother dying, her boy half dead, and the father in 
that state of indifference which verges on a total prostration 
of intellect. He took the woman on his back, and his com- 
rade her son, and thus laden, they .had driven before them 
the father, who was unwilling to move from the spot. 

Dm-ing the descent of Gemmi the woman died on his back, 
but he brought her dead as she was to Leukerbad. When 
we asked what sort of people they were, and what could have 
brought them at such a season into the mountains, he said 
they were poor peojDle of the canton of Berne, who, driven 
by want, had taken to the road at an unseasonable period of 
the year, in the hope of finding some relations either in 
Valais or the Italian canton, and had been overtaken by a 
snow-storm. Moreover, they told many anecdotes of what 
had happened to themselves diuing the winter journeys over 
the Furca with the chamois-skins, on which expeditions, 
however, they always travelled in companies. Every now 
and then our reverend host would make excuses for the 
dinner, and we redoubled our assurances that we wished for 
nothing better. We also found that he contrived to bring 
back the conversation to himself and his own matters, 
observing that he had not been long in this place. He began 
to talk of the oiSce of preaching, and of the dexterity that a 
preacher ought to have. He compared the good preacher to 
a chapman who cleverly puffs his wares, and by his pleasant 
words makes himself agreeable to his customers. After 
dinner he kept up the conversation, and, as he stood with his 
left hand leaning on the table, he accompanied his remarks 
with his right, and while he discoursed most eloquently ou 
eloquence, appeared at the moment as if he wished to con- 
vince us that he himself was the dexterous chapman. We 
assented to his observations, and he came from the lecture to 
the thing itself. He panegyi-ized the Roman Catholic reli- 
gion. " We must," he said, ''have a rule of faith ; and the great 



THE CAPUCHINS AT REALP. 229 

value of it consists in its being fixed, and as little liable as 
possible to change, We," he said, "had made Scripture the 
foundation of our faith, but it was insufficient. We ourselves 
would not venture to put it into the hands of common men : 
for holy as it is, and full as every leaf is of the Spirit of God, 
still the worldly-minded man is insensible of all this, and 
finds rather perplexities and stumbling-blocks throughout. 
What good can a mere layman extract from the histories of 
sinful men, which are contained therein, and which the Holy 
Ghost has there recorded for the strengthening of the faith 
of the tried and experienced children of God? What benefit 
can a common man draw from all this, when he is unable to 
consider the whole context and connection? How is such a 
person to see his way clear out of the seeming contradictions 
which occasionally occur? — out of the difficulties which arise 
from the ill arrangement of the books, and the difierences of 
style, when the learned themselves find it so hard, and while 
so many passages make them hold their reason in abeyance ? 
What ought we therefore to teach? A rule of faith foundec?. 
on Scriptui-e, and proved by the best of commentaries? But 
who then is to comment upon the Scripture ? Who is to set 
up this rule? I, perhaps, or some other man? By no 
means. Every man has his own way of taking and seeing 
things, and represents them after his own ideas. That 
would be to give to the people as many systems of doctrines 
as there are are heads in the world, and to produce inex- 
plicable confusion as indeed had ah'cady been done. No, it 
j-emains for the Holy Church alone to interpret Scripture to 
determine the rule of faith by which the souls of men are to 
be guided and governed. And what is the church ? It is not 
any single supreme head, or any particular member alone. 
No ! it is all the holiest, most learned, and most experienced 
men of all times, who, with the co-operation of the Holy 
Spirit, have successively combined together in building up 
that great, universal,and agreeing body, which has its great 
councils for its members to communicate their thoughts to 
one another, and for mutual edification ; which banishes error, 
and thereby imparts to our holy rehgion a certainty and 
a stability such as no other profession can pretend to, and 
gives it a foundation and strengthens it with bulwarks 
which even hell itself cannot overthrow. And just so is it 



230 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

also with the text of the sacred scriptures. We have," he 
said, " the Vulgate, moreover an approved version of the 
Vulgate, and of every sentence a commentary which the 
church itself has accredited. Hence arises that uniformity of 
our teaching which siu'prises every one. Whether," he con- 
tinued, " you hear me preaching in this most remote corner of 
the world, or in the great capital of a distant country are 
listening to the dullest or cleverest of preachers, all will hold 
one and the same language ; a Catholic Christian will always 
hear the same doctrine ; everywhere will he be instructed and 
edified in the same manner. And this it is which constitutes 
the certainty of our faith; which gives us the peace and con- 
fidence by which each one in life holds sure communion 
with his brother Catholics, and at death can calmly part in 
the sure hope of meeting one another again." 

In his speech, as in a sermon, he let the subjects follow in 
due order, and spoke more from an inward feeling of satisfac- 
tion that he was exhibiting himself under a favourable aspect 
than from any bigotted anxiety for conversion. During the 
delivery he would occasionally change the arm he rested upon, 
or draw them both into the arms of his gown, or let them rest 
on his portly stomach ; now and then he would, with much grace, 
draw his snuff-box out of his capote, and after using it 
replace it with a careless ease. We listened to him atten- 
tively, and he seemed to be quite content with our way of 
receiving his instructions. How greatly amazed would he 
have been if an angel had revealed to him, at the moment, 
that he was addressing his peroration to a descendant of 
Frederick the Wise. 



November 13, 1779. 

Among the Capuchins^ on the summit of Mont S. Gotthard, 

Morning, about 10 o'clock. 

At last we have fortunately reached the utmost limits of our 

journey. Here it is determiDed we shall rest awhile, and 

then turn our steps towards our dear fatherland. Very strange 

are my feelings here, on this summit, where four years ago I 

passed a few days with very different anxieties, sentiments, plans, 

and hopes, and at a very different season of the year, when, 

without any foreboding of my future fortunes, but moved by 



MOUNT S. GOTTHAED. 231 

I know not what, I turned my back upon Italy, and igno- 
-antly went to meet my present destiny. I did not even 
recognise the ho-use again. Some time ago it was greatly 
injured by an avalanche, and the good fathers took advantage 
of this opportimity, and made a collection throughout the canton 
for enlarging and improving their residence. Both of the 
two fathers who reside here at present are absent, but, as I hear, 
they are still the same that I met four years ago. Father 
Seraphin, who has now passed fourteen years in this post is 
at present at Milan, and the other is expected to-day from 
Airolo. In this clear atmosphere the cold is awful. As soon 
as dinner is over I will continue my letter ; for, I see clearly 
we shall not go far outside the door. 



After dinner. 

It becomes colder and colder; one does not like to stir 
from the stove. Indeed it is most delightful to sit upon it, 
which in this country, where the stoves are made of stone- 
tiles, it is very easy to do. First of all, therefore, we will 
tell you of our departure from Realp, and then of our journey 
hither. 

Yesterday evening before we retired to our beds, the good 
father would shew us his sleeping cell, where everything was 
in nice order, in a very small space. His bed, which con- 
sisted of a bag of straw, with a woollen coverlid, did not 
appear to us to be anything very meritorious, as we ourselves 
had often put up with no better. With great pleasure and 
internal satisfaction he showed us everything — ^his bookcase 
and all other things. We praised all that we saw, and part- 
ing on the best terms with each other, we retired for the night. 
In furnishing our room, in order that two beds might stand 
against one wall, both had been made unusually small. This 
inconvenience kept me long awake, until I thought of reme- 
dying it by placing four chairs together. It was quite broad 
daylight before we awoke this morning. When we went 
down we found nothing but happy and friendly faces. Our 
guides, on the point of entering upon their retm-n over yes- 
terday's beautiful route, seemed to look upon it as an epoch, 
and as a history with which hereafter they would be able to 
entertain other strangers, and as they were well paid the idea 



232 LETTERS mOM SWITZEKLAND. 

of an adventure became complete in their minds. After this 
we made a capital breakfast and departed. 

Our road now lay through the valley of the Uri, which is 
remarkable as having, at so great an elevation, such beautiful 
meadows and pasturage for cattle. They make here a cheese 
which I prefer to all others. I^o trees, however, grow here. 
Sally bushes line aU the brooks, and on the mountains little 
shrubs grow thickly together. Of all the countries that I 
know, this is to me the loveliest and most interesting, — ^whe- 
ther it is that old recollections make it precious to me, or that 
the perception of such a long chain of nature's wonders 
excites within me a secret and inexpressible feeling of enjoy- 
ment. I take it for granted that you bear in mind that the 
whole country through which I am leading you is covered 
with snow, and that rock and meadow alike are snowed over. 
The sky has been quite clear, without a single cloud ; the 
hue far deeper than one is accustomed to see in low and flat 
countries, and the white mountain ridges, which stood out in 
strong contrast to it, were either glittering in the sunshine, 
or else took a greyish tint in the shade. 

In a hour and a half we reached Hopital, — a little village 
within the canton of Uri, which lies on the road to S. Gott- 
hard. Here at last I regained the track of my former toiu*. 
We entered an inn, and though it was as yet morning, or- 
dered a dinner, and soon afterward began to ascend the sum- 
mit. A long train of mules with their bells enlivened the 
whole region. It is a sound which av/akens aU one's recol- 
lections of mountain scenery. The greater part of the train 
was in advance of us, and with their sharp iron shoes had 
pretty well cut up the smooth icy road. We also saw some 
la,bourers who were employed in covering the slippery ice with 
fresh earth, in order to render it passable. The wish which I 
formerly gave utterance to, that I might one day be per- 
mitted to see this part of the world under snow, is now at 
last gratified. The road goes up the Reuss as it dashes down 
over rocks all the way, and forms everywhere the most beautiful 
waterfalls. We stood a long while attracted by the singular 
beauty of one which in considerable volume was dashing over a 
succession of dark black rocks. Here and there in the cracks, 
and on the flat ledges pieces of ice had formed, and the water 
seemed to be running over a variegated black and white 



MOUNT S. GOTTIIAED. 233 

marble. The masses of ice glistened like veins of crystal 
in the sun, and the water flowed pure and fresh between 
them. 

On the mountains there is no more tiresome a feUow- 
traveller than a train of mules ; they have so unequal a pace. 
With a strange instinct they always stop a while at the bot- 
tom of a steep ascent, and then dash off at a quick pace up it, 
to rest again at the top. Very often too they will stop at 
the level spots which do occur now and then, until they are 
forced on by the drivers or by other beasts coming up. And 
so the foot passenger, by keeping a steady pace, soon gains 
upon them, and in the narrow road has to push by them. If 
you stand still a little while to observe any object, they in 
theii' turn wiU pass by you, and you are pestered with the 
deafening sound of their bells, and hard brushed with their 
loads, which project to a good distance on each side of them. 
In this way we at last reached the summit of the mountain, 
which you can form some idea of by fancying a bald skull 
surrounded with a crown. Here one finds oneself on a per- 
fect flat surrounded with peaks. Far and near the eye falls 
on nothing but bare and mostly snow-covered peaks and 
crags. 

It is scarcely possible to keep oneself warm, especially as 
they have here no fuel but brushwood, and of that too they 
are obliged to be very sparing, as they have to fetch it up the 
mountains, from a distance of at least three leagues, for at 
the summit, they tell us, scarcely any kind of wood grows. 
The reverend father is returned from Airolo, so fi-ozen that on 
his arrival he could scarcely utter a word. Although here 
the Capuchins are allowed to clothe themselves a little more 
comfortably than the rest of their order, still their style of 
dress is by no means suited for such a climate as this. All 
the vvay up from Airolo the road was frozen perfectly smooth, 
and he"had the wind in his face ; his beard was quite frozen, 
and it was a long while before he recovered himself. We 
had some conversation together on the hardships of their 
residence here ; he told us how they managed to get through 
the year, their various occupations, and their domestic cir- 
cumstances. He could speak nothing but Italian, and so we 
had an opportunity of putting to use the exercises in this 
language which we had taken dm-ing the spring. Towards 



234 LETTERS TKOM SWITZEELAND. 

evening we went for a moment outside the honse-door that the 
good father might point out to us the peak which is considered 
to be the highest summit of Mont Gotthard; but we could 
scarcely endure to stay out a very few minutes, so searching 
and pinching was the cold. This time, therefore, we shall 
remain close shut up within doors, and shall have time enough 
before we start to-morrow, to travel again in thought over ail 
the most remarkable parts of this region. 

A brief geographical description will enable you to under- 
stand how remarkable the point is at which we are now 
sitting. S. Gothard is not indeed the highest mountain of 
Switzerland ; in Savoy, Mont Blanc has a far higher elevation 
and yet it maintains above all others the rank of a king of 
mountains, because all the great chains converge together 
around him, and all rest upon him as their base. Indeed; 
if I do not make a great mistake, I think I was told at Berne, 
by Herr Wyttenbach, who, from its highest summit, had seen 
the peaks of aU the others, that the latter all leaned towards 
it. The mountains of Schweitz and Unterwalden, joined by 
those of Uri range from the north, from the east those of the 
Grisons, from the south those of the Italian cantons, while 
from the east, by means of the Furca, the double line of 
mountains which enclose Valais, presses upon it. Not far 
from this house, there are two small lakes, one of which sends 
forth the Ticino through gorges and yaUeys into Italy, while 
from the other, in like manner, the Reuss proceeds till it empties 
itself in the Lake of the Forest towns.* Not far from this 
spot are the sources of the Rhine, which pursue an easterly 
course, and if then we take in the Rhone which rises at the 
foot of the Furca and runs westward through Valais, we 
shall find ourselves at the point of a cross, from which 
mountain ranges and rivers proceed towards the four cardinal 
points of heaven. 

* Lake Lucerne. 



TRAVELS IN ITALY. 



AUOH IN AROADIEN. 



TRAVELS IN ITALY, 



I TOO IN AECADIA! 



FROM CARLSBAD TO THE BRENNER. 

Batisbon, Sejptember 4, 1786. 

As early as 3 o'clock in the morning I stole out of Carlsbad, 
for otherwise I should not have been allowed to depart quietly. 
The band of friends who, on the 28th of August, rejoiced to 
celebrate my birthday, had in some degree acquired a right 
to detain me. However, it was impossible to stay here any 
longer. Having packed a portmanteau merely, and a knap- 
sack, I jumped alone into a post-chaise, and by half past 8,. 
on a beautifully calm but foggy morning, I arrived at 
Zevoda. The upper clouds were streaky and fleecy, the lower 
ones heavy. This appeared to me a good sign. I hoped 
that, after so wretched a summer, we should enjoy a fine 
autumn. About 12, I got to Egra, under a warm and shining 
sun, and now, it occm-red to me, that this place had the same 
latitude as my own native town, and it was a real pleasure to 
me once more to take my midday meal beneath a bright sky, 
at the fiftieth degree. 

On entering Bavaria one comes at once on the monastery of 
Waldsassen, with the valuable domain of the ecclesiastical lords, 
who were wise sooner than other men. It lies in a dish-like, 
not to say cauldron-like hollow, in beautiful meadow-land, 
inclosed on all sides by slightly ascending and fertile heights. 
This cloister also possesses property in the neighbouring 
districts. The soil is decomposed slate-clay. The quartz, 
which is found in this mineral formation, and which does not 
dissolve nor crumble away, makes the earth loose and 
extremely fertile. The land continues to rise until you come 



238 lETTEKS FROM ITALY. 

to Tirschenreuth, and the waters flow against you, to fall into 
the Egra and the Elbe. From Tirschenrenth it descends 
southwards, and the streams run towards the Danube. I can 
form a pretty rapid idea of a country as soon as I know by 
examination which way even the least brook runs, and can 
determine the river to whose basin it belongs. By this means, 
even in those districts which it is impossible to take a survey 
of, one can, in thought, form a connection between lines of 
mountains and valleys. From the last-mentioned place begins 
an excellent road formed of granite. A better one cannot be 
conceived, for, as the decomposed granite consists of gravelly 
and argillaceous earths, they bind excellently together, and 
form a solid foundation, so as to make a road as smooth as a 
threshing floor. The country through which it runs looks so 
much the worse ; it also consists of a granite-sand, lies very 
flat and marshy, and the excellent road is all the more 
desirable. And as, moreover, the roads descend gradually 
from this plane, one gets on with a rapidity that strikingly 
contrasts with the general snail's pace of Bohemian travelling. 
The inclosed billet will give you the names of the different 
stages. Suffice it to say, that on the second morning I was 
at Batisbon, and so I did these twenty-four miles'^' and a half 
in thirty-nine hours. As the day began to dawn I found 
myself between Schwondorf and Begenstauf, and I observed 
here a change for the better in the cultivation of the land. 
The soil was no longer the mere debris of the rock, but a 
.mixed alluvial deposit. The inundation by which it was 
deposited must have been caused by the ebb and flood, from 
the basin of the Danube into all the valleys which at present 
drain their water into it. In this way were formed the 
natural bolls {polder), on which the tillage is carried on. 
This remark applies to all lands in the neighbourhood of large 
or small streams, and with this guide any observer may form 
a conclusion as to the soils suited for tillage. 

Batisbon is, indeed, beautifully situated. The country 
could not but invite men to settle and build a city in it, and 
the spiritual lords have shown their judgment. All the land 

* A German mile is exactly equal to four English geographical, and 
to rather more than four and a quarter ordinary miles. The distance in. 
the text may, therefore, be roughly set down as one hundred and four 
miles English. [A. J. W. M.] 



RATISBON. 239 

around tlie town belongs to them; in the city itself churches 
crowd churches, and monastic buildings are no less thick. 
The Danube reminds me of the dear old Main. At Frank- 
fort, indeed, the river and bridges have a better appearance ; 
here, however, the view of the northern suburb, Stadt-am-hof, 
looks very pretty, as it lies before you across the river. 

Immediately on my arrival I betook myself to the College 
of the Jesuits, where the annual play was being acted by the 
pupils. I saw the end of the opera, and the beginning of the 
trao-edy. They did not act worse than many an unexperienced 
company of amateurs, and their dresses were beautiful, almost 
too superb. This public exhibition also served to convince 
me still more strongly of the worldly prudence of the Jesuits. 
They neglect nothing that is likely to produce an effect, and 
contrive to practise it with interest and care. In this there 
is not merely prudence, such as we understand the term 
abstractedly ; it is associated with a real pleasure in the matter 
in hand, a sympathy and a fellow feeling, a taste, such as arises 
from the experience of life. As this great society has among 
its members organ builders, sculptors, and gilders, so assuredly 
there are some who patronise the stage with learning and 
^aste ; and just as they decorate their churches with appro- 
priate ornaments, these clear-sighted men take advantage of 
the world's sensual eye by an imposing theatre. 

To-day I am writing in latitude forty-nine degrees. The 
weather promises fair, and even here the people complain of 
the coldness and wet of the past summer. The morning was 
cool, but it was the beginning of a glorious and temperate 
day. The mild atmosphere which the mighty river brings 
with it is something quite peculiar. The fruits are nothing 
very surprising. I have tasted, indeed, some excellent pears, 
but I am longing for grapes and iigs. 

My attention is rivetted by the actions and principles of 
the Jesuits. Their churches, towers, and buildings, have a 
something great and perfect in their plan, which imposes all 
beholders with a secret awe. In the decoration, gold, silver, 
metal, and polished marble, are accumulated in such splen- 
dour and profusion as must dazzle the beggars of all ranks. 
Here and there one fails not to meet with something in bad 
taste, in order to appease and to attract humanity. This is 
the general character of the external ritual of the Roman 



240 LETTEJIS FHOM ITALY. 

Catholic Churcli ; never, however, have I seen it applied with 
so much shrewdness, tact, and consistency, as among- the 
Jesuits. Here all tends to this one end ; unlike the members 
of the other spiritual orders, they do not continue an old 
worn-out ceremonial, but, humouring the spirit of the age, 
continually deck it out with fresh pomp and splendour. 

A rare stone is quarried here into blocks. In appearance 
it is a species of conglomerate ; however, it must be held to 
be older, more primary, and of a porphyritic nature. It is of 
a greenish color, mixed with quartz, and is porous ; in it are 
found large pieces of very solid jasper, in which, again, are 
to be seen little round pieces of a kind of Breccia. A speci- 
men would have been very instructive, and one could not help 
longing for one ; the rock, however, was too solid, and I had 
taken a vow not to load myself with stones on this journey. 



Munich, Septemher 6, 1786. 

At half past 12, on the 5th of September, I set off for 
Eatisbon. At Abbach the country is beautiful, while the 
Danube dashes against limestone rocks as far as Saal. The 
limestone, somewhat similar to that at Osteroda, on the 
Hartz, close, but, on the whole, porous. By 6 a.m. I was in 
Munich, and, after having looked about me for some twelve 
hours, I will notice only a few points. In the Sculpture 
Gallery I did not find myself at home. I must practise my 
eye first of all on paintings. There are some excellent things 
here. The sketches of Reubens from the Luxembourg Gal- 
lery caused me the greatest delight. 

Here, also, is the rare toy, a model of Trajan's Pillar. 
The material Lapis Lazuli, and the figures in gilt. It is, at 
any rate, a rare piece of workmanship, and, in this light, one 
takes pleasure in looking at it. 

In the Hall of the Antiques I soon felt that my eye was 
not much practised on such objects. On this account I was 
unwilling to stay long there, and to waste my time. There 
was much that did not take my fancy, without my being able 
to say why. A Dricsus attracted my attention ; two Anto- 
nines pleased me, as also did a few other things. On the 
whole, the arrangement of the objects was not happy, although 
there is an evident attempt to make a display with them, and 



MUNICH. MITTELWALD. 241 

the hall, or rather the museum, would have a good appearance 
if it were kept in better repair and cleaner. In the Cabinet 
of Natural Histoiy I saw beautiful things from the Tyrol, 
which, in smaller specimens, I was abeady acquainted with, 
and, indeed, possessed. 

I was met by a woman with figs, which, as the first, tastea 
delicious. But the fruit in gener?i is not good considering 
the latitude of forty-eight degrees. Every one is complaining 
here of the wet and cold. A mist, which might well be called 
a rain, overtook me this morning early before I reached 
Mimich. Throughout the day the wind has continued to 
blow cold from off the Tyrolese mountains. As I looked 
towards them from the tower I found them covered, and the 
whole heavens shrouded with clouds. Now, at setting, the 
sun is shining on the top of the ancient tower, which stands 
right opposite to my window. Pardon me that I dwell so 
much on wind and weather. The traveller by land is almost 
as much dependent upon them as the voyager by sea, anrl it 
Avould be a sad thing if my autumn in foreign lands shouhl be 
as little favoured as my summer at home. 

And now straight for Innspruck. What do I not ]-'ass 
over, both on my right and on my left, in order to carry out 
the one thought which has become almost too old in my soul. 



Mittelwald, Septemher 7, 1786. 

It seems as if my guardian-spirit had said " Amen" to my 
"Credo," and I thank him that he has brought me to this 
place on so fine a day. My last postilion said, with a joyous 
exclamation, it was the first in the whole summer. I cherish 
in quiet my superstition that it will long continue so ; how- 
ever, my fi'iends must pardon me if again I talk of air and 
clouds. 

As I started from Munich about 5 o'clock, the sky cleared 
up. On the mountains of the Tyrol the clouds stood in huge 
masses. The streaks, too, in the lower regions did not move. 
The road hes on the heights over hills of alluvial gravel, 
while below one sees the Isar flowing slowly. Here the 
work of the inundations of the primal oceans become con- 
ceivable. In many granite-rubbles I found the coimterparts 
Vol. II. p. 



242. LETTERS EROM ITALY. 

of the specimens in my cabinet, for which I have to thank 
Knebel. 

The mists from the river and the meadows hung about for 
a time, but, at last, they, too, dispersed. Between these 
gravelly hills, which you must think of as extending, 
both in length and breadth, for many leagues, is a highly 
beautiful and fertile region like that in the basin of the 
Eegen. Now one comes again upon the Isar, and observe, 
in its channel, a precipitous section of the gravel hills, at 
least a hundred and fifty feet high. I arrived at Wolfraths- 
hausen and reached the eight-and-fortieth degree. The sun 
was scorching hot ; no one relies on the fine weather ; every 
one is complaining of the past year, and bitterly weeping 
over the arrangements of Providence. 

And now a new world opened upon me. I was approach- 
ing the mountains which stood out more and more distinctly. 

Benedictbeuern has a glorious situation and charms one at 
the first sight. On a fertile plain is a long and broad white 
building, and, behind it, a broad and lofty ridge of rocks. 
Next, one ascends to the Kochel-see, and, still higher on the 
mountains, to the Walchen-see. Here I greeted the first 
tinow-capt summit, and, in the midst of my admiration at 
being so near the snowy mountains, I was informed that 
yesterday it had thundered in these parts, and that snow 
had fallen on the heights. From these meteoric tokens 
people draw hopes of better weather, and from this early 
snow, anticipate change in the atmosphere. The rocks around 
me are all of limestone, of the oldest formation, and contain- 
ing no fossils. These limestone mountains extend in vast, 
unbroken ranges from Dalmatia to Mount St. Gothard. 
Hacquet has travelled over a considerable portion of the 
chain. They dip on the primary rocks of the quartz and 
clay. 

I reached the WaUen-see about half past 4. About three 
miles from this place I met with a pretty adventure. A 
harper came before me with his daughter, a little girl, of about 
eleven years, and begged me to take up his child. He went 
on with his instrument ; I let her sit by my side, and she very 
carefully placed at her feet a large new box. A pretty and 
accomplished creature, and already a great traveller over the 
world. She had been on a pilgrimage on foot Math her 



TEE HOAD UP TPIE BRENNER. 243 

motiier to Maria Einsiedel, and both had determined to go 
upon the still longer journey to S. Jago of Comj^ostella, when 
her mother was carried off by death, and was unable to fulfil 
her vow. It was impossible, she thought, to do too much in 
honor of the Mother of God. After a great fire, in which a 
whole ]iouse was burnt to the lowest foundation, she herself 
had seen the image of the Mother of God, which stood over the 
door beneath a glass frame — image and glass both uninjured 
— which was surely a palpable miracle. All her joiu'neys she 
had taken on foot ; she had just played in Munich before the 
Elector of Bavaria, and altogether her performances had been 
witnessed by one-and-twenty princely personages. She quite 
entertained me. Pretty, large, hazel eyes, a proud forehead, 
which she frequently wrinkled by an elevation of the brows. 
She was natural and agreeable when she spoke, and especially 
when she laughed out loud with the free laugh of childhood. 
When, on the other hand, she was silent, she seemed to have 
a meaning in it, and, with her upper lip, had a sinister 
expression. I spoke with her on very many subjects, she 
was at home with all of them, and made most pertinent 
remarks. Thus she asked me once, what tree one we came 
to, was. It was a huge and beautiful maple, the first I had 
seen on my whole journey. She narrowly observed it, and 
was quite delighted when several more appeared, and she was 
able to recognize this tree. She was going, she told me, to 
Botzen for the fair, where she guessed I too was hastening. 
When she met me there I must buy her a fairing, which, of 
course, I promised to do. She intended to put on there her new 
coif which she had had made out of her earnings at Munich. 
She would show it to me beforehand. So she opened the 
bandbox and I could not do less than admii-e the head-gear, 
with its rich embroidery and beautiful ribbons. 

Over another pleasant prospect we felt a mutual plea- 
sure. She asserted that we had fine Aveather before us. 
For they always carried their barometer with them and that 
was the harp. When the treble-string twanged it was sure 
to be fine weather, and it had done so yesterday. I accepted 
the omen, and we parted in the best of humours, and with the 
iiiope of a speedy meeting. 



k2 



244 LETTSSS FROM ITALY. 



On the Brenner, Septemher 8, 178G, 
Evening. 

HiuTied, not to say driven, here by necessity, I liave 
reached at last a resting-place, in a calm, quiet spot, just such 
as I could wish it to be. It has been a day which for many years 
it will be a pleasure to recall. I left Mittelwald about 6 in 
the morning, and a sharp wind soon perfectly cleared the 
sky. The cold was such as one looks for only in February. 
But now, in the splendour of the setting sun, the dark fore- 
ground, thickly planted with fig-trees, and peeping between 
them the grey limestone rocks, and behind all, the highest 
su-mmit of the mountain covered with snow, and standing 
out in bold outline against the deep blue sky, furnish pre- 
cious and ever-changing images. 

One enters the Tyrol by Schamitz. The bomidary line is 
marked by a wall which bars the passage through the valley, 
and abuts on both sides on the mountains. It looks well: on 
one side the rocks are fortified, on the other they ascend per- 
pendicularly. From Seefeld the road continually grew more 
interesting, and if from Benedictbeuern to this place it went 
on ascending, from height to height, while all the streams of 
the neighbouring districts were making for the Isar, now one 
caught a sight over a ridge of rocks of the valley of the Inn, 
and Inzingen lay before us. The sun was high and hot, so 
that I was obliged to throw oif some of my coats, for, indeed, 
with the varying atmosphere of the day, I am obliged fre- 
quently to change my clothing. 

At Zierl one begins to descend into the valley of the Inn. 
Its situation is indescribably beautiful, and the bright beams 
of the Sim made it look quite cheerful. The postilion went 
faster than I wished, for he had not yet heard mass, and was 
anxious to be present at it at Innspruck, where, as it was the 
festival of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, he hoped to be a 
devout participant. Accordingly, we rattled along the banks^ 
of the Inn, hm-rpng by Martinswand, a vast, precipitous, 
wall-like rock of limestone. To the spot where the Emperor 
Maximihan is said to have lost himself, I ventured to 
descend and came up again without a guide, although it is, 
in any case, a rash undertaking. 

Innspruck is gloriously situated in a rich, broad vaUey^ 



innsphuck:. — ivieteoe,oiogy. 



94r» 



between high rocks and mountains. Everybody and every- 
thing was decked out in honour of the Virgin's Nativity. At 
first I had some wish to stop there, but it promised neither 
rest nor peace. For a little while I amused myself with the 
son of my host. At last the people who were to attend to me 
came in one by one. For the sake of health and prosperity to 
the flocks, they had all gone on a pilgrimage to Wilden, a 
place of worship on the mountains, about tln-ee miles and 
a half from the city. About 2 o'clock, as my rolling carriage 
divided the gay, merry throng, every one was in holiday garb 
and promenade, 

From Innspruck the road becomes even still more beauti- 
ful ; no powers of description can equal it. The most fre- 
quented road, ascending a gorge which empties its waters into 
the Inn, offers to the eye innumerable varieties of scenery. 
While the road often runs close to the most rugged rocks — 
indeed is frequently cut right through them — one sees the other 
side above you slightly inclining, and cultivated with the most 
surprising skill. On the high and broad-ascending surface 
lie valleys, houses, cottages, and cabins, whitewashed, glitter- 
ing among the fields and hedges. Soon all changed; the land 
becomes available only for pastin-e, imtil it, too, terminates 
on the precipitous ascent. I have gained some ideas for my 
scheme of a creation; none, however, perfectly new and un- 
expected. I have also dreamed much of the model I have so 
long talked about, by which I am desirous to give a notion of 
all that is brooding in my own mind, and which, in nature 
itself, I cannot point out to every eye. 

Now it grew darker and darker; individual objects were 
lost in the obscurity; the masses became constantly vaster 
and grander ; at last, as the whole moved before me like some 
deeply mysterious figure, the moon suddenly illuminated the 
snow-capt summits ; and now I am waiting till morning shall 
light up this rocky chasm in which I am shut up on the 
boundary line of the north and south. 

I must again add a few remarks on the weather, which, 
perhaps, favours me so highly, in retm-n for the great attention 
I pay to it. On the lowlands one has good or bad weather 
when it is already settled for either ; on the mountains one is 
present with the beginning of the change. I have so often 
experienced this when on my travels, or walks, or hunting 



246 LETTERS FEOM ITALY. 

excursions, I have passed days and nights between the cliffs in 
the mountain forests. On such occasions, a conceit occurred 
to me, which I give you as nothing better, but which, however, 
I cannot get rid of, as indeed, generally, such conceits are, of 
all things, most difficult to get rid of. I altogether look upon 
it as a truth, and so I will now give utterance to it, especially 
as I have akeady so often had occasion to prove the indul- 
gence of my friends. 

When we look at the mountains, either closely or from a 
distance, and see their summits above us at one time glittering 
in the sunshine, at another enveloped in mist, swept round with 
strong clouds, or blackened with showers, we are disposed to 
ascribe it all to the atmosphere, as we can easily with the eye 
see and discern its movements and changes. The moun- 
tains, on the other hand, with their glorious shapes lie before 
our outward senses immoveable. We take them to be dead 
because they are rigid, and we believe them to be inactive 
because they are at rest. For a long while, however, I can- 
not put oiT the impulse to ascribe, for the most part, to their 
imperceptible and secret influence the changes which are 
observable in the atmosphere. For instance, I believe that 
the mass of the earth generally, and, therefore, also in an 
especial way its more considerable continents do not exercise 
a constant and invariable force of attraction, but that this 
attractive force manifests itself by a certain pulse which^ 
according to intrinsic, necessary, and probably also acci- 
dental, external causes, increases or decreases. Though all 
attempts by other objects to determine this oscillation may be 
too limited and rude, the atmosphere furnishes a standard 
both delicate and large enough to test their silent operations. 
When this attractive force decreases never so little, immedi- 
ately the decrease in the gravity and the diminished elasticity 
of the air indicates this effect. The atmosphere is now 
unable to sustain the moisture which is diffused throughout it 
either chemically or mechanically ; the clouds lower, and the 
rain falls and passes to the lowlands. When, however, the 
mountains increase their power of attraction, then the elas- 
ticity of the air is again restored, and two important pheno- 
mena result. First of all, the mountains collect around their 
summits vast masses of clouds ; hold them fast and firm above 
themselves like second heads, until, as determined by the 



METEOROLOGY. VEGETATION. 247 

contest of electrical forces within them, they pour down 
as thunder-showers, rain or mist, and then, on all that 
remains the electricity of the air operates, which is now 
restored to a capacity of retaining more water, dissolving and 
elaborating it. I saw quite clearly the dispersion of a cloudy 
mass of this kind. It was hanging on the very highest peak; 
the red tints of the setting sun still illuminated it. Slowly 
and slowly pieces detached themselves from either end. 
Some fleecy nebulae were drawn off and carried up still 
higher, and then disappeared, and in this manner, by degrees, 
the whole mass vanished, and was strangely spun away before 
my eyes, like a distaff, by invisible hands. 

If my friends are disposed to laugh at the itinerant meteor- 
ologist and his strange theories, I shall, perhaps, give them 
more solid cause for laughter by some other of my remarks, 
for I must confess that, as my journey was, in fact, a flight 
from all the unshapely things which tormented me in latitude 
51°, I hoped, in 48°, to meet with a true Goshen. But I 
found myself disappointed; for latitude alone does not make 
a climate and fine weather, but the mountain- chains — especi- 
ally such as intersect the land from east to west. In these, 
great changes are constantly going on, and the lands which 
lie to the north have most to suffer from them. Thus, fur- 
ther north, the weather throughout the summer was deter- 
mined by the great Alpine range on which I am now writing. 
Here, for the last few months, it has rained incessantly, while 
a south-east or south-west wind carried the showers north- 
wards. In Italy they are said to have had fine weather, 
indeed, a little too dry. 

And now a few words on a kindred subject— the vegetable 
world, which, in so many ways, depends on climate and 
moisture, and the height of the mountain-ranges. Here, too, 
I have noticed no remarkable change, but stiU an improve- 
ment. In the valley before Innspruck, apples and pears are 
abundant, while the peaches and grapes are brought from the 
"Welsh districts, or, in other words, the Southern Tyrol. 
Near Innspruck they grow a great deal of Indian corn and 
buck wheat, which they call hlende. On the Brenner I first 
saw the larch, and near Schemberg the pine. "Would the 
harper's daughter have questioned me about them also ? 

As regards the plants, I feel stiU more how perfect a tyro 



248 LETTERS PROM ITALY. 

1 am. Up to Munich I saw, I believed, none but those I 
was well accustomed to. In truth, my hurried travelling, b}?" 
day and night, was not favorable to nicer observation on such 
objects. Now, it is true, I have my Linnceus at hand, and his 
Terminology is well stamped on my brain ; but whence is the 
time and quiet to come for analysing, which, if I at all know 
myself, will never become my forte? I, therefore, sharpen 
my eye for the more general features, and when I met with 
the first Gentiana near the Walchensee, it struck me that it 
was always nef.r the water, that I had hitherto noticed any 
new plants. 

What made me still more attentive was the influence which 
the altitude of the mountain region evidently had on plants. 
Not only did I meet there with new specimens, but I also 
observed that the growth of the old ones was materially 
altered. While in the lower regions branches and stalks were 
stronger and more sappy, the buds stood closer together, and the 
leaves broader ; the higher you got on the mountains the stalks 
and branches became more fragile, the buds were at greater 
intervals, and the leaves thinner and more lanceolate. I 
noticed this in the case of a Willow and of a Gentiana, and 
convinced myself that it was not a case of different species. 
So also, near the Walchensee, I noticed longer and thinner 
rushes than anywhere else. 

The limestone of the Alps, which I have as yet travelled 
over, has a greyish tint, and beautiful, singular, irregular 
forms, although the rock is divisible into blocks and strata. 
But as irregular strata occur, and the rock in general does 
not crumble equally under the influence of the weather, the 
sides and the peaks have a singular appearance. This kind 
of rock comes up the Brenner to a great height. In the 
region of the Upper Lake I noticed a slight modification. 
On a micaceous slate of dark green and grey colours, and 
thickly veined with quartz, lay a white, solid limestone, 
which, in its detritus, sparkled and stood in great masses, with 
numberless clefts. Above it I again found micaceous slate, 
which, however, seemed to me to be of a softer texture than 
the first. Higher up still there was to be seen a peculiar 
kind of gneiss, or rather a granitic species which approxi- 
mated to gneiss, as is in the district of EUbogen. Here at 
the top, and opposite the Inn, the rock is micaceous slate. 



GEOLOGY. MY FELLOW TKAVELLEES. 249 

Tlie streams wliich come from the momitains leave deposits of 
notlung but this stone, and of the grey limestone. 

Not far from here must be the granitic base on which all 
rests. The maps show that one is on the side of the true 
great Brenner, from which the streams of a wide surrounding 
district take their rise. 

The following is my external judgment of the people. 
They are active and straightforward. In form they are pretty 
generally alike: hazel, well-opened eyes; with the women 
brown and well-defined eyebrows, but with the men light and 
thick. Among the grey rocks the green hats of the men 
have a cheerful appearance. The hats are generally orna- 
mented with ribbons or broad silk-sashes, and with fringes 
which are prettily sewn on. On the other hand, the women 
disfigure themselves with white, undressed cotton caps of a 
large size, very much like men's nightcaps. These give them 
a very strange appearance ; but abroad, they wear the green 
hats of the men, which become them very much. 

I have opportunity of seeing the value the common class of 
people put upon peacock's feathers, and, in general, how 
every variegated feather is prized. He who wishes to travel 
through these mountains will do well to take with him a lot 
of them. A feather of this kind produced at the proper 
moment will serve instead of the ever- welcome " something 
to "drink." 

Whilst I am putting together, sorting, and arranging these 
sheets, in such a way that my friends may easily take a 
review of my fortunes up to this j^oint, and that I may, at the 
fsame time, dismiss from my soul all that I have lately thought 
and experienced, I have, on the other hand, cast many a 
trembling look on some packets of which I must give a good 
but brief account. They are to be my fellow travellers; may 
they not exercise too great an influence on my next few 
days. 

I brought with me to Carlsbad the whole of my MSS. in 
order to complete the edition of my works, which Goschen 
has undertaken. The unprinted ones I had long possessed in 
beautiful transcripts, by the practised hand of Secretary 
Vogel. This active person accompanied me on this occasion, 
in order that I might, if necessary, command his dexterous 
services. By this means, and with the never-failing co-ope- 



250 liETTEKS PROM ITALY, 

ration of Herder, I was soon in a condition to send to the 
printer the first four volumes, and was on the point of doing 
the same with the last four. The latter consisted, for the 
most part, of mere unfinished sketches, indeed of fragments ; 
for, in truth, my perverse habit of beginning many plans, and 
then, as the interest waned, laying them aside, had gradually 
gained strength with increasing years, occupations, and 
duties. 

As I had brought these scraps with me, I readily listened ta 
ihe requests of the literary circles of Carlsbad, and read out 
to them all that before had remained unknown to the world, 
which already was bitter enough in its complaints that much 
with which it had entertained itself still remained unfinished. 

The celebration of my birthday consisted mainly in sending 
me several poems in the name of my commenced but un- 
finished works. Among these, one was distinguished above 
the rest. It was called the Birds. A deputation of these 
happy creatures being sent to a true friend earnestly entreat him 
to found at once and establish the kingdom so long promised 
to them. Not less obvious and playful were the allusions to 
my other unfinished pieces, so that, all at once, tkey again 
possessed a living interest for me, and I related to my friends 
the designs I had formed, and the entire plans. This gave 
rise to the expression of wishes and urgent requests, and gave 
the game entirely into Herder's hands, while he attempted 
to induce me to take back these papers, and, above all, to 
bestow upon the IpMgenia the pains it well deserve d. The 
fragment which Hes before me is rather a sketch than a 
finished piece; it is written in poetical prose, which occa- 
sionally falls into a sort of lambical rhythm, and even 
imitates other syllabic metres. This, indeed, does great 
injury to the efiect unless it is read well, and unless, by skil- 
ful turns, this defect is carefully concealed. He pressed this 
matter on me very earnestly, and as I concealed from him a& 
well as the rest the great extent of my intended tour, and as 
he believed I had nothing more in view than a mountain trip,, 
and as he was always ridiculing my geographical and mine- 
ralogical studies, he insisted I should act much wiser if, 
instead of breaking stones, I woul.d put my hand to this work 
I could not but give way to so many and well-meant remon- 
jitrances ; but, as yet, I have had no opportunitj to turn ni^ 



THENT. 251 

attention to these matters. I now detach IpMgenia from the 
Dundle and take her with me as my fellow-traveller into the 
DeautiM and warm country of the South. The days are so 
long, and there will be nothing to disturb reflection, while 
the glorious objects of the surrounding scenery by no means 
depress the poetic nerve; indeed, assisted by movement and 
the free air, they rather stimulate and call it forth more 
quickly and more vividly. 



FEOM THE BRENNER TO VERONA. 

Trent, morning of the 11th Sept. 
Afteh full fifty hours, passed in active and constant occupa- 
tion, I reached here about 8 o'clock yesterday evening, and 
soon after retired to rest, so that I now find myself in condi- 
tion to go on with my narrative. On the evening of the 9th, 
when I had closed the first portion of my diary, I thought I 
would try and draw the inn and post-house on the Brenner, 
just as it stood. My attempt was unsuccessful, for I missed 
the character of the place ; I went home therefore in somewhat 
of an ill-humor. Mine host asked me if I would not depart, 
telling me it was moon-light and the best travelling. Although 
I knew perfectly well that, as he wanted his horses early in 
the morning to carry in the after-crop {Grummet), and wished 
to have them home again in time for that purpose, his advice 
was given with a view to his own interest, I nevertheless 
took it, because it accorded with my own inclination. The 
Sim reappeared, the air was tolerable, I packed up, and started 
about 7 o'clock. The blue atmosphere triumphed over the 
clouds, and the evening was most beautiful. 

The postilion fell asleep, and the horses set ofi" at a quick 
trot down-hill, always taking the well-known route. When 
they came to a -pillage they went somewhat slower. Then 
the diiver would wake up, and give them a fresh stimulus, 
and thus we descended at a good pace with high rocks on both 
sides of us, or by the banks of the rapid river Etsch. The 
moon arose and shed her light upon the massive objects 
around. Some mills, which stood between primaeval pine- 
trees, over the foaming stream, seemed really everlasting. 

When, at 9 o'clock, I had reached Sterzingen, they gave me 
clearly to understand, that they wished me off again. Arriving 
in Mi'ttelwald, exactly at 12 o'clock, I found everj^body asleep 



252 jletters pkom italy. 

except the postilion, and we were obliged to go on to Brixen, 
where I was again taken off in like manner, so that at the da^vTi 
of day I was inColman. The postilions drove so fast that there 
^yas neither seeing nor hearing, and although I could not help 
Deing sorry at travelling through this noble country with 
such frightful rapidity ; and at night, too, as though I was 
flying the place, I nevertheless felt an inward joy, that a 
favorable wdnd blew behind me, and seemed to hurry me 
towards the object of my wishes. At day-break I perceived 
the first vineyard. A woman with pears and peaches met 
me, and thus we went on to Teutschen, where I arrived at 
7 o'clock, and then was again hurried on. After I had 
again travelled northwards for a while, I at last saw in the 
bright sunshine the valley where Botzen is situated. Sui-- 
rounded by steep and somewhat high mountains, it is open 
towards the south, and sheltered towards the north by the 
Tyrolese range. A mild, soft air pervaded the spot. Here 
the Etsch again winds towards the south. The hills at the 
foot of the mountain are cultivated with vines. The vinestocks 
are trained over long but low arbourwork ; the purple grapes 
are gracefully suspended from the top, and ripen- in the 
warmth of the soil, which is close beneath them. In the 
bottom of the valley, which for the most part consists of nothing 
but meadows, the vine is cultivated in narrow rows of similar 
festoons, at a little distance from each other, while between 
grows the Indian corn, the stalks of which at this time are 
high. I have often seen it ten feet high. The fibrous' male 
blossom is not yet cut off, as is the case when fructification- 
has ceased for some time. 

I came to Botzen in a bright sunshine. A good assem- 
blage of mercantile faces pleased me much. Everywhere one 
sees the liveliest tokens. An existence full of purpose, and 
highly comfortable. In the square some fruit-women were 
sitting with round fiat baskets, above four feet in diameter, in 
which peaches v/ere arranged side by side, so as to avoid 
oressui'e. Here I thought of a verse, which I had seen 
written on the window of the inn at Ratisbon : 

Comme les peches et les melons 
Sont pour la bouche d'un Baron, 
Ainsi les verges et les batons 
Sont pour les fous, dit Salomon. 



BOTZEK TEENT. 2uL» 

It is obvious that tliis was wi'itten by a northern baron, and 
no less clear is it that if he were in this country, he would 
alter his notions. 

At the Botzen fair a brisk silk-trade is carried on. Cloths 
are also brought here, and as much leather as can be procured 
from the mountain districts. Several merchants, however, 
came chiefly for the sake of depositing their money, taking 
orders, and opening new credits. I felt I could have taken 
great delight in examining the various products that were 
collected .here; but the impulse, the state of disquiet, which 
keeps urging me from behind, would not let me rest, and I 
must at once hasten from the spot. For my consolation, 
however, the whole matter is printed in the statistical papers, 
and we can, if we require it, get such instructions from 
books. I have now to deal only with the sensible impres- 
sions, which no book or picture can give. In fact, I am again 
taking interest in the world, I am testing my faculty of obser- 
vation, and am trying how far I can go with my science 
and my acquirements, how far my eye is clear and sharp, how 
much I can take in at a hasty glance, and whether those 
wi'inkles, that are imprinted upon my heart, are ever again 
to be obliterated. Even in these few days, the circumstance 
that I have had to wait upon myself, and have always been 
obliged to keep my attention and presence of mind on the 
alert, has given me quite a new elasticity of intellect. I must 
now busy myself with the currency, must change, pay, note 
down, write, wliile I formerly did nothing but think, wiU, 
reflect, command, and dictate. 

From Botzen to Trent the stage is nine leagues and runs 
through a valley, which constantly increases in fertility. All 
that merely struggles into vegetation on the higher moun- 
tains, has here more strength and vitality; the sun shines 
with warmth, and there is once more belief in a Deity. 

A poor woman cried out to me to take her child into my 
vehicle, as the hot soil was burning its feet. I did her this 
little service out of honour to the strong light of heaven. The 
child was strangely decked out, but I couJd get nothing 
from it in any way. 

The Etsch flows more gently in these parts, and it 
makes broad deposits of gravel in many places. On the land, 
near the river and up the hills, the planting is so thick and 
close, that one fancies one thing wiU suffocate the other. It 



254 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

is a regular thicket of vineyards, maize, mulberry trees, apples, 
pears, quinces, and nuts. The danewort {Attig) thrives luxu- 
riantly on the walls. Ivy with solid stems runs up the rocks, 
on which it spreads itself; the lizards glide through the 
interstices, and whatever has life or motion here, reminds one 
of the most charming works of art. The braided top-knots of 
the women, the bared breasts and light jackets of the men, 
the fine oxen which you see driven home from market, the 
laden asses, — all combine to produce one of Heinrich E-oos's 
animated pictures. And when evening draws on, and through 
the calmness of the air, a few clouds rest upon the mountains, 
rather standing than running against the sky, and, as imme- 
diately after sunset, the chirp of the grasshoppers begins to 
grow loud, one feels quite at home in the world, and not a 
mere exile. I am as reconciled to the place as if I were born 
and bred in it, and had now just returned from a whaling 
expedition to Greenland. Even the dust, which here as in 
our fatherland often plays about my wheels, and which has 
so long remained strange to me, I welcome as an old friend. 
The bell-like voice of the cricket is most piercing, and far 
from unpleasant. A cheerful effect is produ.ced, when playful 
boys whistle against a field of such singers, and you almost 
fancy that the sound on each side is raised by emulation. The 
evening here is perfectly mild no less than the day. 

If any one who lived in the South, or came from the South, 
heard my enthusiasm about these matters, he would consider 
me very childish. Ah, what I express here, I long ago was 
conscious of, while ruffing under an unkindly sky ; and now 
I love to experience as an exception the happiness which I 
hope soon to enjoy as a regular natural necessity. 



Trent^ the evening of the 10th Sept. 
1 have Vv^andered about the city, which has an old, not to 
say a very primitive look, though there are new and weU-built 
houses in some of the streets. In the church there is a picture 
in which the assembled council of the Jesuits is represented, 
listening to a sermon delivered by the general of the order. I 
should like to know what he is trying to palm upon them. The 
church of these fathers may at once be recognised from the outside 
by pilasters of red marble on the fagade. The doors are covered 
hy a heavy curtain, which serves to keep off the dust. I raised 



TKEISTT. 255 

t, and entered a small vestibule. The church itself is parted 
off by an iron grating, but so that it can be entirely overlooked. 
All was as silent as the grave, for divine service is no longer 
performed here. The front door stood open, merely because 
all chm-ches must be open at the time of Vespers. 

While I stood considering the architeckire, which was, I 
fomid, similar to other Jesuit chm^ches, an old man stepped in, 
and at once took off his little black cap. His old faded black 
coat indicated that he was a needy priest. He knelt down 
before the grating, and rose again after a short prayer. When 
he turned round, he said to himself half-aloud: " Well, they 
have diiven out the Jesuits, but they ought to have paid them 
the cost of the church. I loiow how many thousands were 
spent on the church and the seminary." As he uttered this 
he left the spot, and the curtain fell behind him. I, however, 
lifted it again, and kept myself quiet. He remained a while 
standing on the topmost step, and said : " The Emperor did 
not do it; the Pope did it." With his face turned towards 
the street, so that he could not observe me, he continued: 
" First the Spaniards, then we, then the French. The blood 
of Abel cries out against his brother Cain!" And thus he 
went down the steps and along the street, still talking to him- 
self. I should conjectm-e he is one who, having been main- 
tained by the Jesuits, has lost his wits in consequence of the 
tremendous fall of the order, and now comes every day to 
search the empty vessel for its old inhabitants, and, after a 
short prayer, to pronounce a curse upon their enemies. 

A young man, whom I questioned about the remarkable 
sights in the towm, showed me a house, which is called the 
" Devil's house," because the devil, who is generally too 
ready to destroy, is said to have built it in a single night, with 
3tones rapidly brought to the spot. However, what is really 
remarkable about the house, the good man had not observed, 
namely, that it is the only house of good taste that I have yet 
seen in Trent, and was certainly built by some good Italian, 
at an earlier period. At 5 o'clock in the evening I again set 
off. The spectacle of yesterday evening was repeated, and 
at sun-set the grasshoppers again began to sing. For about 
a league the journey lies between walls, above which the 
grape-espaliers are visible. Other walls, which are not high 
enough, have been eked out with stones, thorns, &c., to 
prevent passengers from i3lucking off the grapes. Many 



25G LETTERS EHOM ITALY: 

owners sprinkle the foremost rows with lime, which renders 
the grapes uneatable, but does not hurt the wine, as the pro- 
cess of fermentation drives out the heterogeneous matter. 



Evening of September 11. 
I am now at Koveredo, where a marked distinction of lan- 
guage begins ; hitherto, it has fluctuated between German and 
Italian. I have now, for the first time, had a thoroughly 
Italian postilion, the inn-keeper does not speak a word of 
German, and I must put my own linguistic powers to the 
test. How delighted I am that the language I have always most 
loved now becomes living — the language of common usage. 

Torhole, 12th Septemher [cifter dinner). 

How much do I wish that my friends were with me for a 
moment to enjoy the prospect, which now lies before my eyes. 

I might have been in Verona this evening but a magnificent 
natural phenomenon was in my vicinity — Lake Garda, a splen- 
did spectacle, which I did not want to miss, and now I am 
nobly rewarded for taking this circuitous route. After 5 o'clock 
I started from Roveredo, up a side valley, which still pours its 
waters into the Etsch. After ascending this, you come to an 
immense rocky bar, which you must cross in descending to the 
lake. Here appeared the finest calcareous rocks for pictorial 
study. On descending you come to a little village on the 
northern end of the lake, with a little port, or rather landing- 
place, which is called Torbole. On my way upwards I was con- 
stantly accompanied by fig-trees, and, descendiog into the rocky 
atmosiDhere, I found the first olive-tree full of fruit. Here 
also, for the first time, I found as a common fruit those little 
white figs, which the Countess Lanthieri had promised me. 

A door opens from the chamber in which I sit into the 
court-yard below. Before this I have placed my table, and 
taken a rough sketch of the prospect. The lake may be seen 
for its whole length, and it is only at the end, towards the 
left, that it vanishes from our eyes. The shore, which is 
inclosed on both sides by hill and mountain, shines with a 
countless number 'of little hamlets. 

After midnight the wind blows from north to south, and he 
who wishes to go down the lake must travel at this time, for 
a few hours before sunset the current of air changes, and 
moves northward. At this time, the afternoon, it blows strongly 



liAGO DI GARDA. 257 

against me, and pleasantly qualifies the burning heat of the 
sun. Volkmann teaches me that this lake was formerly called 
" Benacus," and quotes from Virgil a line in which it was 
mentioned : " 

" Fluctibus et fremiter resonans, Benace, marino." 

This is the first Latin verse, the subject of which ever stood 
visibly before me, and now, in the present moment, when the 
wind is blowing stronger and stronger, and the lake casts 
loftier billows against the little harbour, it is just as true as it 
was hundreds of years ago. Much, indeed, has changed, but 
the wind still roars about the lake, the aspect of which gains 
even greater glory from a line of Virgil's. 

The above was written in a latitude of 45° 50'. 



I went out for a walk in the cool of the evening, and now I 
really find myself in a new country, surrounded by objects 
entirely strange. The people lead a careless, sauntering life. 
In the first place, the doors are without locks, but the host 
assured me that I might be quite at ease, even though all I 
had about me consisted of diamonds. In the second place, 
the windows are covered with oiled paper instead of glass. In 
the third place, an extremely necessary convenience is want- 
ing, so that one comes pretty close to a state of nature. 
When I asked the waiter for a certain place, he pointed 
down into the court-yard: "Qui, abasso puo servii'si!" 
"Dove?" asked I. "Da per tutto, dove vuol," was the 
friendly reply. The greatest carelessness is visible every- 
where, but still there is life and bustle enough. During 
the whole day there is a constant chattering and slii'ieking of 
the female neighbors, all have something to do at the same 
time. I have not yet seen an idle woman. 

The host, with Italian emphasis, assured me, that he felt 
great pleasure in being able to serve me with the finest trout. 
They are taken near Torbole, whore the stream flows down 
from the moimtains, and the fish seeks a passage upwards. 
The Emperor farms this fishery for 10,000 gulden. The fish, 
which are large, often weighing fifty pounds, *and spotted over 
the whole body to the head, are not trout, properly so called. 
The flavour, Avhich is between that of tro-at and salmon, is 
delicate and excellent. 

Vol. II. s 



258 LETTERS EKOM ITALY. 

But my real deliglit is in the fruit. — in the figs, and in the 
pears, which must, indeed, be excellent, where citrons are 
already growing. 



Evening of Septemher 13. 
At 3 o'clock this morning I started from Torbole, with a 
couple of rowers. At first the wind was so favorable that we 
put up a sail. The morning was cloudy but Mne, and perfectly 
calm at day-break. We passed Limona, the mountain-gar- 
dens of which, laid out terrace-fashion, and planted with 
citron-trees, have a neat and rich appearance. The whole 
garden consists of rows of square white pillars placed at some 
distance from each other, and rising up the mountain in steps. 
On these pillars strong beams are laid, that the trees planted 
between them may be sheltered in the winter. The view 
of these pleasant objects was favored by a slow passage, 
and we had already passed Malsesine when the wind sud- 
denly changed, took the direction usual in the day-time, and 
blew towards the north. Kowing was of little use against this 
superior power, and, therefore, we were forced to land in 
the harbour of Malsesine. This is the first Venetian spot on 
the eastern side of the lake. When one has to do with water 
we cannot say, " I will be at this or that particular place to- 
day." I will make my stay here as useful as I can, especially 
by making a drawing of the castle, which lies close to the 
water, and is a beautiful object. As I passed along I took a 
sketch of it. 



Sept. nth. 
The wind, which blew against me yesterday, and drove me 
into the harbour of Malsesine, was the cause of a perilous 
adventure, which I got over with good humour, and the re- 
membrance of ^^hich I still find amusing. According to my 
plan, I went early in the morning into the old castle, which 
having neither gate nor guard, is accessible to everybody. 
Entering the court-yard, I seated myself opposite to the old 
tower, which is built on and among the rocks. Here I haa 
selected a very convenient spot for drawing;— a carved stone 
seat in tbe wall, near a closed door, raised some three or four 
feet high, such as we also find in the old buildings in our own 
country. 



AN INCIDENT AT MALSESINE. 259 

I had not sat long before several persons entered the yard, 
and walked backwards and forwards, looking at me. The mid- 
titude increased, and at last so stood as completely to surround 
me. I remarked that my drawing had excited attention; 
however, I did not allow myself to be disturbed, but quietly 
continued my occupation. At last a man, not of the most 
prepossessing appearance, came up to me, and asked me what 
I was about. I replied that I was copying the old tower, 
that I might have some remembrance of Malsesine. He said 
that this was not allowed, and that I must leave off. As he 
said this in the common Venetian dialect, so that I under- 
stood him with difficulty, I answered, that I did not understand 
Mm at aU. With true Italian coohiess he took hold of my 
paper, and tore it, at the same time letting it remain on the 
pasteboard. Here I observed an air of dissatisfaction among 
the by-standers ; an old woman in particular said that it was 
not right, but that the podesta ought to be called, who was 
the best judge of such matters. I stood upright on the stejDs, 
having my back against the door, and surveyed the assembly, 
which was continually increasing. The fixed eager glances, 
the good humoured expression of most of the faces, and all 
the other characteristics of a foreign mob, made the most 
amusing impression upon me. I fancied that I could see 
before me the chorus of birds, which, as Treufreund, I had 
often laughed at, in the Ettersburg theatre. This put me in 
excellent humour, and when the podesta came up with his 
actuary, I greeted him in an open manner, and when he asked 
me why I was drawing the fortification, modestly replied, that 
T did not look upon that wall as a fortification. I called the 
attention of him and the people to the decay of the towers and 
walls^ and to the generally defenceless position of the place, 
assuring him that I thought I only saw and drew a ruin. 

I was answered thus: "If it was only a ruin, what could 
there be remarkable about it?" As I wished to gain time 
and favour, I replied very circumstantially, that they must 
be well aware how many travellers visited Italy, for the sake 
of the ruins only, that Rome, the metropolis of the world, 
having suffered the depredations of barbarian's, was now ftdl 
of ruins, which had been drawn hundreds of times, and that 
all the works of antiquity were not in such good preservatiou 
as the. amphitheatre at Verona, which I hoped soon to see. 

8 2 



260 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

The podesta, who stood before me, though in a less elevated 
position, was a tall man, not exactly thin, of about thirty 
years of age. The flat features of his spiritless face perfectly 
accorded with the slow constrained manner, in which he put 
his questions. Even the actuary, a sharp little fellow, seemed 
as if he did not know what to make of a case so new, and so 
unexpected. I said a great deal of the same sort ; the people 
seemed to take my remarks good naturedly, and on turning 
towards some kindly female faces, I thought I could read 
assent and approval. 

Wlien, however, I mentioned the amphitheatre at Verona, 
which in this country, is called the " Arena," the actuary, 
who had in the meanwhile collected himself, replied, that this 
was all very well, because the edifice in question was a Roman 
building, famed throughout the world. In these towers, how- 
ever, there was nothing remarkable, excepting that they marked 
the boundary between the Venetian domain and Austrian 
Empire, and therefore espionage could not be allowed. I 
answered by explaining at "some length, that not only the 
Great and Roman antiquities, but also those of the Middle- 
Ages were worth attention. They could not be blamed, I 
granted, if, having been accustomed to this building from 
their youth upwards, they could not discern in it so many 
picturesque beauties as I did. Fortunately the morning sun^ 
shed the most beautiful lustre on the tov/er, rocks, and walls,, 
and I began to describe the scene v^dth enthusiasm. My 
audience, however, had these much lauded objects behind them, 
and as they did not wish to turn altogether away from me, 
they all at once twisted their heads, like the birds, which we 
call "wry necks" (Wendehalse), that they might see with 
their eyes, what I had been lauding to their ears. Evei;L the 
podesta tm-ned round towards the pictm-e I had been describ- 
ing, though with more dignity than the rest. This scene 
appeared to me so ridiculous that my good humour increased, 
and I spared them nothing — least of all, the ivy, which had 
been suffered for ages to adorn the rocks and walls. 

The actuary retorted, that this was all very good, but the 
Emperor Joseph was a troublesome gentleman, who certainly 
entertained many evil designs against Venice ; and I might 
probably have been one of his subjects, appointed by him, tv> 
act as a spy on the borders. 



AN INCIDENT AT JIALSESINE. 261 

"Far from belonging to the Emperor," I replied, "lean 
boast, as well as you, that I am a citizen of a repubhc, which 
also governs itself, but which is not, indeed, to be compared 
for power and greatness to the illustrious state of Venice, 
although in commercial activity, in v/ealth, and in the wisdom 
of its rulers, it is inferior to no state in Germany. I am a 
native of Franldbrt-on-the-Main, a city, the name and fame 
of which has doubtless reached you." 

"Of Franlvfort-on-the-Main!" cried a pretty young woman, 
"then, Mr. Podest^, you can at once see all about the 
foreigner, whom I look upon as an honest man. Let Gre- 
gorio be called; he has resided there a long time, and will be 
the best judge of the matter." 

The kindly faces had akeady increased around me, the first 
adversary had vanished, and when Gregorio came to the spot, 
the whole affair took a decided turn in my favor. He was a man 
upwards of fifty, with one of those well-known Italian faces. 
He spoke and conducted himself like one, who feels that 
something foreign is not foreign to him, and told me at once 
that he had seen service in Bolongari's house, and would be 
delighted to hear from me something about- this family and 
the city in general, v^^hich had left a pleasant impression in 
his memory. Fortunately his residence at Frankfort had 
been dming my younger years, and I had the double advan- 
tage of being able to say exactly how matters stood in his 
time, and what alteration had taken place afterwards. I told 
him about all the Italian families, none of whom had remained 
unknown to me. With many particulars he was highly 
delighted, as, for instance, with the fact that Herr Alessina 
had celebrated his "golden wedding,"* in the jeav 1774, and 
that a medal had been struck on the occasion, which was in 
my possession. He remembered that the wife of this wealthy 
merchant was by birth a Brentano. I could also tell him 
something about the children and grand-children of these 
families, how they had grown up, and had been provided for 
and married, and had multiplied themselves in their des- 
cendants. 

When I had given the most accurate information about 
almost everything which he asked, his features alternately 
* The fiftieth anniversary of a wedding-day is so called in Germany. 



262 LETTERS FKOM ITALY. 

expressed cheerfulness and solemnity. He was pleased and 
touched, while the people cheered up more and more, and 
could not hear too much of our conversation, of which — ^it 
must be confessed — ^he was obhged to translate a part into 
their own dialect. 

At last he said : "Podesta, I am convinced that this is a 
good, accomplished, and well-educated gentleman, who is 
travelling about to acquire instruction. Let him depart in a 
friendly manner, that he may speak well of us to his fellow- 
countrymen, and induce them to visit Malsesine, the beautiful 
situation of which is well worthy the admiration of foreigners. 
I gave additional force to these friendly words by praising the 
country, the situation, and the inhabitants, not forgetting to 
mention the magistrates as wise and prudent personages. 

This was well received, and I had permission to visit the 
place at pleasure, in company with Master Gregorio. The 
landlord, with whom I had put up, now joined us, and was 
delighted at the prospect of the foreign guests, who would 
crowd upon him, when once the advantages of Malsesine were 
properly known. With the most lively curiosity he examined 
my various articles of dress, but especially envied me the pos- 
session of a little pistol, which slipped conveniently into the 
pocket. He congratulated those who could carry such pretty 
weapons, this being forbidden in his country under the 
severest penalties. This friendly but obtrusive personage 
I sometimes interrupted to thank my deliverer. "Do not 
thank me," said honest Gregorio, "for you owe me nothing. 
If the Podesta had understood his business, and the Actuary 
had not been the most selfish man in the world, you would 
not have got off so easily. The former was still more puzzled 
than you, and the latter would have pocketed nothing by your 
arrest, the information, and your removal to Verona. This 
he rapidly thought over, and you were already free, before 
our dialogue was ended." 

Towards the evening the good man took me into his vine- 
yard, which was very well situated, down along the lake. "We 
were accompanied by his son, a lad of fifteen, who was forced 
to climb the trees, and pluck me the best fruit, while the old 
man looked out for the ripest grapes. 

While thus placed between those two kindhearted people, 
both strange to the world, alone, as it were, in the deep soli- 



LAGO 1)1 GABDA. 263 

tude of the earth, I felt, in the most lively manner, as I 
reflected on the day's adventure, what a whimsical being Man 
is — how the very thing, which in company he might enjoy 
Avith ease and security, is often rendered troublesome^ and dan- 
gerous, from his notion, that he can appropriate to himself the 
Avorld and its contents after his own peculiar fashion. 

Towards midnight my host accompanied me to the barque, 
carrying the basket of fruit with which Gregorio had presented 
me,, and thus, with a favorable wind, I left the shore, which 
had promised to become a Lsestrygonicum shore to me. 

And now for my expedition on the lake. It ended happily, 
after the noble aspect of the water, and of the adjacent shore 
of Brescia had refreshed my very heart. On the western side, 
Avhere the mountains cease to be perpendicular, and near the 
lake, the land becomes more flat, Garignano, Bojaco, Cecina, 
Toscolan, Maderno, Verdom, and Salo, stand all in a row, and 
occupy a reach of about a league and a half; most of them 
being built in long streets. No words can express the beauty 
of this richly inhabited spot. At 10 o'clock in the morning I 
landed at Bartolino, placed my luggage on one mule and my- 
self on another. The road went now over a ridge, which 
separates the valley of the Etsch from the hollow of the lake. 
The primaeval waters seem to have driven against each other 
from both sides, in immense currents, and to have raised this 
colossal dam of gravel. A fertile soil was deposited upon the 
gravel at a quieter period, but the labourer is constantly annoyed 
by the appearance of the stones on the surface. Every efibrt is 
made to get rid of them, they are piled in rows and layers one on 
another, and thus a sort of thick wall is formed along the path. 
The mulberry-trees, from a want of moisture, have a dismal 
appearance at this elevation. Springs there are none. From 
time to time puddles of collected rain-water may be found, 
with which the mules and even their drivers quench their 
thii'st. Some wheels are placed on the river beneath, to 
water, at pleasure, those plantations that have a lower situa- 
tion. 

The magnificence of the new country, which opens on you 
as you descend, surpasses description. It is a garden a mile 
long and broad, which lies quite flat at the fcot of tall moun- 
tains and steep rocks, and is as neatly laid out as possible 



264 I.ETTEIIS FROM ITALY. 

By this way, about 1 o'clock on the 10th of September, I 
reached Verona, where I first write this, finish, and put toge- 
ther the first part of my diary, and indulge in the pleasing 
hope of seeing the amphitheatre in the evening. 

Concerning the weather of these days I have to make the 
following statement : — The night from the 9 th to the 10 th was 
alternately clear and cloudy, the moon had always a halo 
round it. Towards 5 o'clock in the morning all the sky was 
overcast with gray, not heavy clouds, which vanished with the 
advance of day. The more I descended the finer was the 
weather. As at Botzen the great mass of the mountains took a 
aiortherly situation, the air displayed quite another quality- 
From the different grounds in the . landscape, which were 
separated from each other in the most picturesque manner, by 
a tint more or less blue, it might be seen, that the atmosphere 
was fuU of vapors equally distributed, which it was able to 
sustain, and which, therefore, neither fell in the shape of dew, 
nor were collected in the form of clouds. As I descended 
further I could plainly observe, that all the exhalations from 
the Botzen valley, and all the streaks of cloud which ascended 
from the more southern mountains, moved towards the higher 
northern regions, which they did not cover, but veiled with a 
kind of yellov/ fog. In the remotest distance, over the moun- 
tains, I could observe what is called a " water-gull." To the 
south of Botzen they have had the finest weather all the sum- 
mer, only a little water (they say aqua to denote a light rain), 
from time to time, and then a return of sunshine. Yesterday 
a few drops occasionally fell, and the sun throughout continued 
shining. They have not had so good a year for a long while ; 
everything turns out well ; the bad weather they have sent 
to us. 

I mention but slightly the mountains and the species <yf 
stone, since Ferber's travels to Italy, and Hacquet's journey 
along the Alps, give sufficient information respecting this 
district. A quarter of a league from the Brenner, there is a 
marble quarry, which I passed at twilight. It may, nay, must 
lie upon mica-slate as on the other side. This I found near 
Colman, just as it dawned; lower down there was an appear- 
ance of porphyry. The rocks were so magnificent, and the 
heaps were so conveniently broken up along the highway, that 
a " Voigt" cabinet might have been made and packed up at 



FROM BKENNEH TO VERONA. 265 

once. Without any trouble of tliat kind I can take a piece, 
if it is only to accustom my eyes and my cmiosity to a small 
quantit)^ A little below Colman, I found some porphyry, 
which splits into regular plates, and between Brandrol and Neu- 
mark some of a similar kind, in which, however, the laminse 
separated in pillars. Ferber considered them to be volcanic 
productions, but that was fourteen years ago, when all the 
world had its head on fire. Even Hacquet ridicules the 
notion. 

Of the people I can say but little, and that is not vei;y 
favorable. On my descent from the Brenner, I discovered, 
as soon as day came, a decided change of form, and was 
particularly displeased by the pale brownish complexion of 
the women. Their features indicated wretchedness, the chil- 
di-ftn looked equally miserable ; — the men somewhat better. 
I imagine that the cause of this sickly condition may be 
found in the frequent consumption of Indian corn and buck- 
wheat. Both the former, which they also call " Yellow 
Blende," and the latter, which is called " Black Blende," 
is ground, made into a thick pap with water, and thus eaten. 
The Germans on this side, pull out the dough, and fry it in 
butter. The Italian Tyrolese, on the contrary, eat it just as 
it is, . often with scrapings of cheese, and do not taste meat 
throughout the year. This necessarily glues up and stops the 
alimentary channels, especially with the women and children, 
and their cachectic complexion is an indication of the malady. 
They also eat fruit and green beans, which they boil down in 
water, and mix with oil and garlic. I asked if there were no 
rich peasants. " Yes, indeed," was the reply. " Don't they 
indulge themselves at all? dont they eat anything better?" 
" No, they are used to it." " What do they do with their 
money then? how do they lay it out?" "Oh, they have 
their ladies, who relieve them of that." This is the sum 
and substance of a conversation with mine host's daughter at 
Botzen. 

• I also learned from her, that the vine-tillers were the worst 
off, although they appeared to be the most opulent, for they 
were in the hands of commercial towns-people, who advanced 
them enough to support life in the bad seasons, and in winter 
took theii- wine at a low price. However, it is the same 
thing everj-where. 



266 lETTERS FKOM ITALY. 

My opinion concerning the food is confirmed by the fact, 
that the women who inhabit the towns appear better and 
better. They have pretty plump girlish faces, the body is 
somewhat too short in proportion to the stoutness, and the 
Bize of the head, but sometimes the countenances have a most 
agreable expression. The men we already know through the 
wandering Tyrolese. In the country their appearance is less 
fresh than that of the women, perhaps because the latter have 
more bodily labour, and are more in motion, while the former 
sit at home as traders and workmen. By the Garda Lake I 
found the people very brovni, without the slightest tinge of 
red in their cheeks; however they did not look unhealthy, 
but quite fresh and comfortable. Probably the burning sun- 
beams, to which they are exposed at the foot of their moun- 
tains, are the cause of their complexion. 



FROM VERONA TO VENICE. 

Verona, Sept. 16th. 

Well then, the amphitheatre is the first important monu* 
ment of the old times that I have seen — and how well it is- 
preserved ! When I entered, and stiU more when I walked 
round the edge of it at the top, it seemed strange to me, that I 
saw something great, and yet, properly speaking, saw nothing. 
Besides I do not like to see it empty, I should like to see it 
fuU of people, just as, in modern times, it was filled up in 
honour of Joseph I. and Pius VI. The Emperor, although 
his eye was accustomed to human masses, must have been 
astonished. But it was only in the earliest times, that it 
produced its full efiect, when the people was more a people 
than it is now. For, properly speaking, such an amphitheatre 
is constructed to give the people an imposing view of itself,— 
to cajole itself. 

When anything worth seeing occurs on the level ground, 
and any one runs to the spot, the hindermost try by every 
means to raise themselves above the foremost; they get 
upon benches, roll casks, bring up vi-hicles, lay planks in every 
direction, occupy the neighbouring heights, and a crater is 
formed in no time. 



TEKONA. 267 

If the spectacle occur frequently on the same spot, light 
ecaflfoldings are built for those who are able to pay, and the 
rest of the multitude must get on as it can. Here the problem 
of the architect is to satisfy this general want. By means of 
his art he prepares such a crater, making it as simple as possible, 
that the people itself may constitute the decoration. "V^Hien the 
populace saw itself so assembled, it must have been astonished 
at the sight, for whereas it was only accustomed to see itself 
running about in confusion, or to find itself crowded together 
M'ithout particular rule or order, so must this many-headed, 
many-rainded, wandering animal now see itself combined into 
a noble body, made into a definite unity, bound and secured 
into a mass, and animated as one form by one mind. The 
simplicity of the oval is most pleasingly obvious to every eye, 
and every head serves as a measure to show the vastness of the 
whole. Now we see it empty, we have no standard, and do 
not know whether it is large or small. 

The Veronese deserve commendation for the high preserva- 
tion in which this edifice ^s kept. It is built of a reddish 
marble, Avhich has been afiected by the atmosphere, and hence 
the steps which have been eaten, are continually restored, and 
look almost all new. An inscription makes mention of one 
Hieronymus Maurigenus, and of the incredible industry, which 
he has expended on this monument. Of the outer wall only 
a piece remains, and I doubt whether it was ever quite 
finished. The lower arches, which adjoin the large square, 
called " li Bra," are let out to workmen, and the reanimatioa 
of these arcades produces a cheerful appearance. 



Verona, Sejit. 16. 

The most beautiful gate, which, however, always remains 
closed, is called " Porta stupa," or " del Pallio." As a gate, 
and considering the great distance from which it is first seen, 
it is not well conceived, and it is not till we come near it, 
that we recognise the beauty of the structure. 

All sorts of reasons are given to account for its being closed. 
I have, however, a conjecture of my own. It was manifestly 
the intention of the artist to cause a new Corso to be laid out 
from this gate, foi the situation, or the present street, is com- 
pletely wrong. On the left side there is nothing but barracks; 



;268 liETTEKS FROM ITALY. 

and the line at right angles from the middle of the gate leads to 
a convent of nuns, which must certainly have come down. 
This was presently perceived, and besides .the rich and higher 
classes might not have liked to settle in the remote quarter. 
The artist perhaps died, and therefore the door was closed, 
and so an end was put to the affair. 



Verona^ Sept. 16. 

The portico of the theatre, consisting of six large Ionic 
columns, looks handsome enough. So -much the more puny 
is the appearance of the Marchese di Maffei's bust, which as 
large as life, aud in a great wig, stands over the door, and in 
front of a painted niche, which is supported by two Corinthian 
columns. The position is honorable, but to be in some degree 
proportionate to the magnitude and solidity of the columns, 
the bust should have been colossal. But now placed as it is 
on a corbel, it has a mean appearance, and is by no means 
in harmony with the whole. 

The gallery, which incloses the fore-court, is also small, 
and the channelled Doric dwarfs have a mean appearance by 
the side of the smooth Ionic giants. But we pardon this dis- 
crepancy on account of the fine institution, which has been 
founded among the columns. Here is kept a number of antiqui- 
ties, which have mostly been dug up in and about Verona. 
Something, they say, has even been found in the Amphi- 
theatre. There are Etruscan, Greek, and Roman specimens, 
down to the latest times, and some even of more modem 
date. . The bas-reliefs are inserted in the walls, and provided 
with the numbers, which Maffei gave them, when he described 
them in his work : " Verona illustrata.'' There are altars, 
fragments of columns, and other relics of the sort ; an ad- 
mirable tripod of white marble, upon which there are gemi 
occupied with the attributes of the gods. Raphael has 
imitated and improved this kind of thing in the scrolls of 
the Farnesina. 

The wind which blows from the graves of the ancients, 
comes fragrantly over hills of roses. The tombs give touching 
evidences of a genuine feeling, and always bring life back to 
us. Here is a man, by the side of his wife, who peeps -out of 
a niche, as if it were a window. Here are fatlier and mother. 



VBRONi.. 269 

with their son between them, eyeing each other as naturally 
as possible. Here a couple are grasping each other's hands. 
Here a father, resting on his couch, seems to be 'amused by his 
family. The immediate proximity of these stones was to me 
highly touching. They belong to a later school of art, but 
are simple, natural, and generally pleasing. Here a man in 
armour is on his knees in expectation of a joyful resurrection. 
With more or less of talent the artist has produced the mere 
simple presence of the persons, and has thus given a perma- 
nent continuation to their existence. They do not fold their 
hands, they do not look towards heaven, but they are here 
below just what they were and just what they are. They 
stand together, take interest in each other, love one another, 
and this is charminglj^ expressed on the stone, though with a 
certain want of technical skill. A marble pillar, very richly 
adorned, gave me more new ideas. 

Laudable as this institution is, we can plainly perceive that 
the noble spirit of preservation, by which it was founded, is 
no longer continued. The valuable tripod will soon be 
ruined, placed as it is in the open air, and exposed to the 
weather towards the west. This treasure might easily be 
preserved in a wooden case. 

The palace of the Proveditore, which is begun, might have 
afforded a fine specimen of architecture, if it had been finished. 
Generally speaking, the nohili build a great deal, but unfor- 
tunately every one builds on the site of his former residence, 
and often, therefore, in narrow lanes. Thus, for instance, a 
magnificent facade to a seminary is now building in an alley 
of the remotest suburb. 



While, with a guide, whom I had accidentally picked up, I 
passed before the great solemn gate of a singular building, he 
asked me good-humourdly, whether I should not like to step 
into the court for a while. It was the palace of justice, and 
the court, on account of the height of the building, looked 
only like an enormous wall. Here, he told me, all the crimi- 
nals and suspicious persons are confined. I looked around? 
and saw that round all the stories there were open passages' 
fitted with iron balustrades, which passed by numerous doors* 
The prisoner, as he stepped out of his dimgeon to be led to 



270 LETTERS mOM ITA.LT. 

ti'ial, stood in tlie open air, and was exposed to the gaze of 
all passers, and because there were several trial-rooms, 
the chains were rattling, now over this, now over that pas- 
sage, in every story. It was a hateful sight, and I do not 
deny that the good humour, with which I had dispatched my 
"Birds," might here have come into a strait. 



I walked at sunset upon the margin of the crater-like am- 
phitheatre, and enjoyed the most splendid prospect over the 
town and the surrounding country. I was quite alone, and 
multitudes of people were passing below me on the hard 
stones of the Bra; men of all ranks, and women of the middle- 
ranks were walking. The latter in their black outer garments 
look, in this bird's-eye view, like so many mummies. 

The Zendale and the Veste, which serves this class in the 
place of an entire wardrobe, is a costume completely fitted for 
a people that does not care much for cleanliness, and yet 
always likes to appear in public, sometimes at church, some- 
times on the promenade. The Veste is a gown of black 
taffeta, which is thrown over other gowns. If the lady has a 
clean white one beneath, she contrives to lift up the black one on 
one side. This is fastened on so, as to cut the waist, and to 
cover the lappets of a corset, which may be of any colour. 
The Zendale is a large hood with long ears ; the hood itself is 
kept high above the head by a wire-frame, while the ears are 
fastened round the body like a scarf, so that the ends fall 
down behind. 



Verona, Sept. 16. 

When I again left the Arena to-day, I came to a modern 
public spectacle, about a thousand paces from the spot. 
Four noble Veronese were playing ball against four people of 
Vicenza. This pastime is carried on among the Veronese 
themselves all the year round, about two hom's before night. 
On this occasion there was a far larger concourse of people 
than usual, on account of the foreign adversaries. The specta- 
tors seem to have amounted to four or five thousand. I did 
not see women of any rank. 

When, a little while ago, I spoke of the necessities of the 
multitude in such a case, I described the natural accidental 



VEKONA. 271 

amphitheatre as arising just in the manner, in which I saw 
the people raised one over another on this occasion. Even at 
a distance I could hear the lively clapping of hands, which 
accompanied every important stroke. The game is played as 
follows : Two boards, slightly inclined, are placed at a con- 
venient distance from each other. He who strikes off the 
ball stands at the higher end, his right hand is armed with a 
broad wooden ring, set with spikes. While another of his 
party throws the ball to him, he runs down to meet it, and 
thus increases the force of the blow with which he strikes it. 
The adversaries try to beat it back, and thus it goes back- 
wards and forwards till, at last, it remains on the ground. 
The most beautiful attitudes, worthy of being imitated in 
marble, are thus pioduced. As there are none but well- 
grown active young people, in a short, close, white dress, the 
parties are only distinguished by a yellow mark. Particularly 
beautiful is the attitude into which the man on the eminence 
falls, when he runs down the inclined plain, and raises his 
arm to strike the ball ; — it approaches that of the Borghesian 
gladiator. 

It seemed strange to me that they carry on this exercise by 
an old lime-wall, without the slightest convenience for specta- 
tors; why is it not done in the amphitheatre, where there 
would be such ample room ? 



Verona, September 17. 

"What I have seen of pictures I mil but briefly touch upon, 
and add some remarks. I do not make this extraordinary 
tour for the sake of deceiving myself, but to become acquainted 
with myself by means of these objects. I therefore honestly 
confess that of the painter's art — of his manipulation, I under- 
stand but little. My attention, and observation, can only be 
directed to the practical part, to the subject, and the general 
treatment of it. 

S. Georgio is a gallery of good pictures, all altar-pieces, 
and all remarkable, if not of equal value. But what subjects 
were the hapless artists obliged to paint? And for whom.'' 
Perhaps a shower of manna thirty feet long, and twenty feet 
high, with the miracle of the loaves as a companion. What could 
<jv made of these subjects ? Hungry men falling on little grains, 



272 LETTERS ESOM ITALY. 

and a countless multitude of others, to whom bread is handed. 
The artists have racked their invention in order to get some- 
thing striking out of such wretched subjects. And yet, 
stimulated by the urgency of the case, genius has produced 
some beautiful things. An artist, who had to paint S. Ursula 
with the eleven thousand virgins, has got over the difficulty cle- 
verly enough. The saint stands in the foreground, as if she hai 
conquered the country. She is very noble, like an Amazonia ' 
virgin, and without any enticing charms; on the other hand, 
her troop is shown descending from the ships, and moving in 
procession at a diminishing distance. The Assumption of th© 
Virgin, by Titian, in the dome, has become much blackeaed, 
and it is a thought worthy of praise that, at the moment of her 
apotheosis, she looks not towards heaven, but towards her 
friends below. 

In the Gherardini Gallery I found some very fine things by 
Orbitto, and for the first time became acquainted with this meri- 
torious artist. At a distance we only hear of the first artists, and 
then we are often contented with names only ; but when we 
di-aw nearer to this starry sky, and the luminaries of the 
second and third magnitude also begin to twinkle, each one 
coming forward and occupying his proper place in the whole 
constellation, then the world becomes wide, and art becomes 
rich. I must here commend the conception of one of the 
pictures. Sampson has gone to sleep in the lap of Dalilah, and 
she has softly stretched her hand over him to reach a pair of 
scissors, which lies near the lamp on the table. The execu- 
tion is admirable. In the Canopa Palace I observed a Danae. 

The Bevilagua Palace contains the most valuable things. A 
picture by Tintoretto, which is called a "Paradise," but 
which, in fact, represents the Coronation of the- Virgin Mary 
as Queen of Heaven, in the presence of all the patriarchs, 
prophets, apostles, saints, angels, &c., afibrds an opportunity 
for displaying aU the riches of the most felicitous genius. 
To admire and enjoy all that care of manipulation, that spirit 
and variety of expression, it is necessary to possess the pic- 
ture, and to have it before one all one's life. The painter's 
work is carried on ad infinitum; even the farthest angels' heads, 
which are vanishing in the halo, preserve something of cha- 
racter. The largest figures may be about a foot high ; Mary, 
and the Christ v/ho is crowning her, about four inches. Eve 



VER-ONA. 273 

is, however, the finest woman in the picture; a little volup- 
tuous, as from time immemorial. 

A couple of portraits by Paul Veronese have only increased 
my veneration for that artist. The collection of antiquities is 
very fine ; there is a son of Niobe extended in death, which is 
highly valuable ; and the busts, including an Augustus with 
the civic crown, a Caligula, and others, are mostly of great 
interest, notwithstanding the restoration of the noses. 

It lies in my nature to admire, willmgly and joyfully, all 
that is great and beautiful, and the cultivation of this talent, 
day after day, hour after hour, by the inspection of such beau- 
tiful objects, produces the happiest feelings. 

In a land, where we enjoy the days but take especial 
delight in the evenings, the time of nightfall is highly impor- 
tant. For now v,^ork ceases ; those who have gone out walk- 
ing turn back ; the father wishes to have his daughter home 
again ; the day has an end. Y\^hat the day is we Cimmerians 
hardly knovf . In our eternal mist and fog it is the same 
thmg to us, whether it be day or night, for how much time 
can we really pass and enjoy in the open air ? Now, when 
night sets in, the day, which consisted of a morning and an 
evening, is decidedly past, four and tvv^enty hours are gone, 
the bells ring, the rosary is taken in hand, and the maid, 
entering the chamber with the lighted lamp, says, " felicissi- 
ma notte." This epoch varies mth every season, and a man 
who lives here in actual life cannot go wrong, because all the 
eujoynxents of his existence are regulated not by the nominal 
hour, but by the time of day. If the people were forced to 
use a German clock they would be perplexed, for their own 
is intimatety connected with their nature. About an hour 
and a half, or an hour before midnight, the nobility begin to 
ride out. They proceed to the Piazza della Bra, along the 
long, broad street to the Porta Nuova out at the gate, and 
along the city, and when night sets in, they aU return home. 
Sometimes they go to the chm-ches to say their Ave Maria 
deUa sera : sometimes they keep on the Bra, where the cava- 
liers step up to the coaches and converse for a while wdth the 
ladies. The foot passengers remain tiU a late hour of night, 
but I have never stopped till the last. To-day just enough 
rain had fallen to lay the dust, and the spectacle was most 
cheerful and animated. 

Vol. II. T 



274 TETTEHS xHOM. ITALY. 

That I may accommodate myself the better to the custom of 
the country I have devised a plan for mastering more easily the 
Italian method of reckoning the hours. The accompaning 
diagram may give an idea of it. The inner circle denotes 
our four and twenty hours, from midnight to midnight, divided 
into twice twelve, as we reckon, and as our clocks indicate. 
The middle circle shows how the clocks strike at the present 
season, namely, as much as twelve twice in the twenty-four 
Iiours, but in such a way that it strikes one, when it strikes 
eight with us, and so on till the number twelve is complete. 
At eight o'clock in the morning according to our clock it 
again strikes one, and so on. Finally the outer circle shows 
how the four and twenty hours are reckoned in actual life. 
f-QV example, I hear seven o'clock striking in the night, and 
kiiow that midnight is at five o'clock; I therefore deduct the 
latter number from the former, and thus have two hours after 
midnight. If I hear seven o'clock strike in the day-time, and 
know that noon is at five, I proceed in the same w^ay, and 
thus have two in the afternoon. But if I wish to express the 
hour according to the fashion of this country, I must know 
that noon is seventeen o'clock ; I add the two, and get nine- 
teen o'clock. When this method is heard and thought of for 
the first time, it seems extremely confused and difficult to 
manage, but we soon grow accustomed to it and find the 
occupation amusing. The people themselves take delight in 
this perpetual calculation, just as children are pleased with 
easily surmounted difficulties. Indeed they always have their 
fingers in the air, make any calculation in their heads, and 
like to occupy themselves with figures. Besides to the 
inhabitant of the country the matter is so much the easier, 
as he really does not trouble himself about noon and mid- 
night, and does not, like the foreign resident, compare two 
clocks with each other. They only count from the evening 
the hours, as they strike, and. in the day-time they add the 
number to the varying number of noon, with which they are 
acquainted. The rest is explained by the remarks appended 
to the diagram i — 



COMPARATIVE TABLE 

of 
GERMAK AND ITALIAN TIME, 

WITH riiB HOURS OF THE ITALIAN SUN-DIAL FOR. THE LATTBIl 
HALF OF SEPTEMBER. 

3IIDDAY. 




MIDNIGHT. 



The night lengthens half an hour 
every fortnight. 

Time of night Midnight 
Month. Bay. as shewn by consequently 
German clocks, falls about. 



August 

Sept. 

October 



No^. 



From this date the time remains 
i constant and it is : — 

I NIGHT. MIDNIGHT. 



1 


H 


15 


8 


1 


7i 


15 


7 


1 


6h 


15 


6 


1 


5^ 


15 


5 



De* 
Jail 



: } 



The day lengthens half an houi 
every fortnight. 

Time of night Midnight 
Month. Day. as shewn by consequently 
German clocks falls about. 



H 


Fehr. 


1 


Dh 


6i 


4 


— 


15 


6 


6 


H 


March 


1 


6* 


H 


5 





15 


7 


5 


5i 
6 


April 


1 
15 


7-1 
8 


4i 

4 


6i 

7 


May 


1 
15 


Si 
9 


3 
3 



From this date the time remain fe 
constant and it is : — 

NIGHT. MIDNIGHT. 



June 
July 

T 2 



2i6 LETTERS FHOM ITALY. 

Verona, Sept. 17. 

The people here jostle one another actively enough; the 
narrow streets, where shops and workmen's stalls are thickly- 
crowded together, have a particularly cheerful look. There is 
no such thing as a door in front of the shop or workroom ; the 
whole breadth of the house is open, and one may see aU that 
passes in the interior. Half-way out into the path, the 
tailors are sewing; and the cobblers are pulling and rapping; 
indeed the work- stalls make a part of the street. In the 
evening, when the lights are burning, the appearance is most 
lively. 

The squares are very full on market days ; there are fruit 
and vegetables without number, and garlic and onions to the 
heart's desire. Then again throughout the day there is a 
ceaseless screaming, bantering, singing, squalling, huzzaing, 
and laughing. The mildness of the air, and the cheapness of 
the food, make subsistence easy. Everything possible is done 
in the open air. 

At night singing and all sorts of noises begin. The ballad of 
^'Marlhrooh'' is heard in every street; — ^then comes a dulcimer, 
then a violin. They try to imitate all the birds with a pipe. 
The strangest sounds are heard on every side. A mild climate 
can give this exquisite enjoj^ment of mere existence, even to 
poverty, and the very shadow of the people seems respectable. 

The want of cleanliness and convenience, which so much 
strikes us in the houses, arises from the following cause :— the 
inhabitants are always out of doors, and in their light-hearted- 
ness think of nothing. With the people all goes right, even 
the middle-class man just lives on from day to day, while the 
rich and genteel shut themselves up in their dwellings, which 
are not so habitable as in the north. Society is found in the 
open streets. Fore-courts and colonnades are all soiled with 
filth, for things are done in the most natural manner. The 
people always feel their way before them. The rich man 
may be rich, and build his palaces ; and the nobile may rule, but 
if he makes a colonnade or a fore-court, the people will make 
use of it for their own occasions, and have no more urgent 
wish than to get rid as soon as possible, of that which they 
have taken as often as possible. If a person cannot bear this, 
he must not play the great gentleman, that is to say, he must 
act as if a part of his dwelling belonged to the public. He 



VERONA VICENZA. 277 

may shut his door, and all will be right. But in open build- 
ings the people are not to be debarred of their pri-sdleges, and 
this, throughout Italy, is a nuisance to the foreigner. 

To-day I remarked in several streets of the town, the 
customs and manners of the middle-classes especially, wlio 
appear very numerous and busy. They swing their arms as 
they walk. Persons of a high rank, who on certain ccea- 
sions wear a sword, swing only one arm, being accustomed to 
hold the left arm still. 

Although the people are careless enough with respect to 
theii' own wants and occupations, they have a keen eye for 
everything foreign. Thus in the very first days, I observed 
that every one took notice of my boots, because here they are 
too expensive an article of dress to wear even in winter. Now 
I wear shoes and stockings nobody looks at me. Particularly 
I noticed this morning, when all were running about with 
flowers, vegetables, garlic, and other market-stuif, that a twig 
of cypress, which I carried in my hand, did not escape them. 
Some green cones hung upon it, and I held in the same hand 
some blooming caper- twigs. Everybody, large and small, 
watched me closely, and seemed to entertain some whimsical 
thought. 

I brought these twigs from the Giusti garden, which is 
finely situated, and in w^hich there are monstrous cypresses, 
all pointed up like spikes into the air. The Taxus, which in 
northern gardening we find cut to a sharp point, is probably an 
imitation of this splendid natural product. A tree, the 
branches of which, the oldest as well as the youngest, are 
striving to reach heaven, — a tree which will last its three 
hundred years, is well w^orthy of veneration. Judging firom 
the time when this garden was laid out, these trees have 
already attained that advanced age. 



Vicenza, Sept. 19. 
The way from Verona hither is very pleasant: we go 
north-eastwards along the mountains, always keeping to the 
left the foremost mountains, which consist of sand, lime, clay, 
and marl ; the hills which they form, are dotted with villages, 
castles, and houses. To the right extends the broad plain, 
along which the road goes. The straight broad path, which is 



278 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

in good preservation, goes through a fertile field; we look 
into deep avenues of trees, up which the vines are trained 
to a considerable height, and then drop down, like pendant 
branches. Here we can get an admirable idea of festoons! 
The grapes are ripe, and are heavy on the tendrils, which hang- 
down long and trembling. The road is filled with people of 
every class and occupation, and I was particularly pleased by 
some carts, with low solid wheels, which, with teams of fine 
oxen, carry the large vats, in which the grapes from the 
vineyards are put and pressed. The drivers rode in them 
when they were empty, and the whole was like a triumphal 
procession of Bacchanals. Between the ranks of vines the 
ground is used for all sorts of grain, especially Indian corn 
and millet [Sbrgel). 

As one goes towards Vicenza, the hills again rise from 
north to south and enclose the plain ; they are, it is said, vol- 
canic. Vicenza lies at their foot, or if you will, in a bosom 
which they form. 



Vicenza, SejJt. 19. 
Though I have been here only a fev/ hours, I have already 
run through the town, and seen the Olympian theatre, and the 
buildings of Palladio. A very pretty little book is published 
here, for the convenience of foreigners, with copper-plates and 
some letter-press, that shows knowledge of art. When once 
one stands in the presence of these v/orks, one immediately 
perceives their great value, for they are calculated to fill the 
eye with their actual greatness and massiveness, and to satisfy 
the mind by the beautiful harmony of their dimensions, not 
only in abstract sketches, but with all the prominences and 
distances of perspective. Therefore I say of Palladio : he was 
a man really and intrinsically great, whose greatness was out- 
wardly manifested. The chief difficulty with which this man, 
like all modem architects, had to struggle, was the suitable 
appKcation of the orders of columns to buildings for domestic 
or public use ; for there is always a contradiction in the com- 
bination of columns and walls. But with what success has 
he not worked them up together ! What an imposing efiect 
has the aspect of his edifices : at the sight of them one almost 
forgets that he is attempting to reconcile us to a violation of 



YIGE^VZA., 279 

the rules of his art. There is, indeed, something divine 
about his designs, which may be exactly compared to the crea- 
tions of the great poet, who, out of truth and falsehood 
elaborates something between both, and charms us mth its 
borrowed existence. 

The Olympic theatre is a theatre of the ancients, realized 
on a small scale, and indescribably beautiful. However, com- 
pared with our theatres, it reminds me of a genteel, rich, 
well-bred child, contrasted with a shrewd man of the world, 
who, though he is neither so rich, nor so genteel, and well- 
bred, knows better how to employ his resom'ces. 

If we contemplate, on the spot, the noble buildings which 
Palladio has erected, and see how they are disfigured by the 
mean filthy necessities of the people, how the plans of most 
of them exceeded the means of those who undertook them, and 
how little these precious monuments of one lofty mind are 
adapted to all else around, the thought occurs, that it is 
just the same with everything else ; for Ave receive but little 
thanks from men, when we would elevate their internal aspira- 
tions, give them a great idea of themselves, and make them 
feel the grandeur of a really noble existence. But when one 
cajoles them, tells them tales, and helping them on from day 
to day, makes them w^orse, then one is just the man they like; 
and hence it is that modern times take delight in so many 
absurdities. I do not say this to lower my friends, I only 
say that they are so, and that people must not be astonished 
to find everything just as it is. 

How the Bas^ca of Palladio looks by the side of an old 
castellated kind of a building, dotted all over with windows 
of difierent sizes (whose removal, tower and all, the artist 
evidently contemplated), — it is impossible to describe — and 
besides' I must now, by a strange effort, compress my own 
feehngs, for, I too, alas ! find here side by side both what I 
seek and what I fly from. 



Sept. 20. 

Yesterday we had the opera, which lasted till midnight, and 

I was glad to get some rest. The three Sultanesses and the 

Rape of the Seraglio have afforded several tatters, out of which 

the piece has been patched up, with very little skill. The 



280 LETTERS mOM ITJLLY. 

music is agreeable to tlie ear, but is probably by an amateur ; 
for not a single tliougiit struck me as being new. The ballets, 
on tiie other hand, were charming. The principle pair of 
dancers executed an Allemande to perfection. 

The theatre is new, pleasant, beautiful, modestly magnifi- 
cent, uniform throughout, just as it ought to be in a provincial 
town. Every box has hangings of the same color, and the 
one belonging to the Capitmi Grande, is only distinguished 
from the rest, by the fact that the hangings are somewhat 
longer. 

The prima donna, who is a great favorite of the whole peo- 
ple, is tremendously applauded, on her entrance, and the 
" gods" are quite obstreperous with their delight, when she 
does anything remarkably well, which very often happens. 
Her manners are natural, she has a pretty figure, a fine 
voice, a pleasing countenance, and, above all, a really modest 
demeanour, while there might be more grace in the arms. 
However, I am not what I v/as, I feel that I am spoiled, I am 
spoiled for a " god." 



Sept. 21. 

To-day I visited Dr. Tura. Five years ago he passionately 
devoted himself to the study of plants, formed a herbarium of 
the Italian flora, and laid out a botanical garden under the 
superintendence of the former bishop. However, all that has 
come to an end. Medical practice drove away natural 
history, the herbarium' is eaten by worms, the bishop is dead, 
and the botanic garden is again rationally planted with cab- 
bages and garlic. 

Dr. Tura is a very refined and good man. He told me his 
history with frankness, puiity of mind, and modesty, and 
altogether spoke in a very definite and affable manner. At 
the same time he did not like to open his cabinets, which per- 
haps were in no very presentable condition. Our conversa- 
tion soon came to a stand-still. 



Sept. 21. Evening. 
I called upon the old architect Scamozzi, who has published 
an edition of Palladia'' s buildings, and is a diligent artist, pas- 
sionately devoted to his art. He gave me some dii'ections, 



VICENZA. 281 

being delighted witli my sympathy. Among Palladio's build- 
ings there is one, for which I always had an especial predi- 
lection, and which is said to have been his o\\-n residence 
"When it is seen close, there is far more in it than appears in 
a picture. I should have liked to draw it, and to illuminate it 
with colors, to show the material and the age. It must not, 
however, be imagined that the architect has built himself a 
palace. The house is the most modest in the vv^orld, with only 
two windows, separated from each other by a broad space, 
which would admit a third. If it were imitated in a picture, 
which should exhibit the neighbouring houses at the same 
time, the spectator would be pleased to observe how it has 
been let in between them. Canaletto was the man who should 
have painted it. 



To-day I visited the splendid building which stands on a 
pleasant elevation about half a league from the to^m, and is 
called the "Rotonda." It is a quadrangidar building, enclo- 
sing a circular hall, lighted from the top. On aU. the four 
sides, you ascend a broad flight of steps, and always come to 
a vestibule, which is formed of six Corinthian columns. Pro- 
bably the luxury of architecture was never carried to so 
high a point. The space occupied by the steps and vestibules 
is much larger than that occupied by the house itself; for 
every one of the sides is as grand and pleasing as the front of 
a temple. With respect to the inside it may be called 
habitable, but not comfortable. The hall is of the finest pro- 
portions, and so are the chambers ; but they would hardly 
suffice for the actual wants of any genteel family in a sum- 
mer-residence. On the other hand it presents a most beau- 
tiful appearance, as it is viewed on every side throughout 
the district. TTie variety which is produced by the principal 
mass, as, together with the projecting columns, it is gradually 
brought before the eyes of the spectator who walks round 
it, is very great : and the purpose of the owner, who wished to 
leave a large trust-estate, and at the same time a visible 
monument of his wealth, is completely obtained. And while 
the building appears in all its magnificence, when viewed 
fi:om any spot in the district, it also forms the point of ^aew for 
a most agreeable prospect. You may see the Bachiglione 



282 LETTERS rHOM ITALT. 

flowing along, and taking vessels down from Verona to tlie 
Brenta, while you overlook the extensive possessions which the 
Marquis Capra wished to preserve undivided in his family. 
The inscriptions on the four gable-ends, which together con- 
stitute one whole, are worthy to be noted down : 

Marcus Capra Gabrielis filius 

Qui sedes has 
Arctissimo primogeniturse gradui subjecit 

Una cum omnibus 
Censibus agris vallibus et coUibus 

Citra viam magnam 
Memories perpetuse mandans htec 

Dum sustinet ac abstinet. 

The ^ conclusion in particular is strange enough. A man 
who has at command so much wealth and such a capacious 
will, still feels that he must hear and forbear. This can be 
learned at a less expense. 



Sejjt. 22. 

This evening T was at a meeting held by the academy of 
the "Ohmipians." It is mere play-work, but good in its 
way, and seems to keep up a little spice and life among the 
people. There is the great hall by Palladio's theatre, hand- 
somely lighted up ; the Capitan and a portion of the nobility 
are present, besides a public composed of educated persons, 
and several of the clergy ; the whole assembly amounting to 
about five hundred. 

The question proposed by the president for to-day's sitting 
was this : " Wliich has been most serviceable to the fine arts, 
invention or imitation? " This was a happy notion, for if the 
alternatives which are involved in the question are kept duly 
apart, one may go on debating for centuries. The acade- 
micians have gallantly availed themselves of the occasion, and 
have produced all sorts of things in prose and verse, — some 
very good. 

Then there is the liveliest public. The audience cry hravo, 
and clap their hands and laugh. What a thing it is to stand 
thus before one's nation, and amuse them in person! We 
must set down our best productions in black and white; every 



VICENZA. 283 

one squats down with tlieni in a corner, and scribbles at tliem 
as he can. 

It may be imagined that even on this occasion Palladio 
would be continually appealed to, whether the discourse was in 
favour of invention or imitation. At the end, which is always 
the right place for a joke, one of the speakers hit on a happy 
thought, and said that the others had already taken Palladio 
away from him, so that he, for his part, would praise Fran- 
ceschini, the great silk-manufacturer. He then began to 
show the advantages which this enterprising man, and 
through him the city of Vicenza, had derived from imitating 
the Lyomiese and Florentine stuffs, and thence came to the 
conclusion that imitation stands far above invention. This 
was done with so much humour, that uninterrupted laughter 
was excited. Generally those who spoke in favor of imitation 
obtained the most applause, for they said nothing but what 
was adapted to the thoughts and capacities of the multitude. 
Once the public, by a violent clapping of hands, gave its 
hearty approval to a most clumsy sophism, when it had not 
felt many good— nay, excellent things, that had been said in 
honour of invention. I am very glad I have witnessed this 
scene, for it is highly gratifying to see Palladio, after the 
lapse of so long a time, still honoured by his feUow-citizens, 
as their polar- star and model. 



Sept. 22. 

This morning I Avas at Tiene, which lies north towards the 
mountains, where a new building has been erected after an 
old plan, of which there may be a little to say. Thus do they 
here honour eveiything that belongs to the good period, and 
have sense enough to raise a new building on a plan which 
they have inherited. The chateau is excellently situated in a 
large plain, having behind it the calcareous AIjds, without 
any mountains intervening. A stream of living water flov/s 
along the level causeway from each side of the building, 
towards those who approach it, and waters the broad fields of 
rice through which one passes. 

I have now seen but two Italian cities, and fcr the fii'st time, 
and have spoken with but few j^ersons, and yet I know my 
ItaUans pretty well. They are like courtiers, who consider 



284 LETTERS FliOM ITALY. 

themselves tlie first people in the world, and who, on the 
strength of certain advantages, which cannot be denied them, 
can indulge with impunity in so comfortable a thought. The 
Italians appear to me a right good people. Only one must 
see the children and the common people as I see them now, 
and can see them, while I am always open to them,-— nay, 
always lay myself open to them. What figures and faces 
there are ! 

It is especially to be commended in the Vicentians, that 
with them one enjoys the privileges of a large city. What- 
ever a person does, they do not stare at him, but if he 
addresses them, they are conversable and pleasant, especially 
the women, who please me much. I do not mean to find 
fault with the Veronese women; they are well made and 
have a decided pupil, but they are, for the most part, pale, 
and the Zendal is to their disadvantage, because one looks for 
something charming under the beautiful costume. I have 
found here some very pretty creatures, especially some with 
black locks, who inspire me with peculiar interest. There are 
also fairer beauties who, however, do not please me so well. 



Padua, Sept. 26. Evening. 

In four hours I have this day come here from Vicenza, 
crammed luggage and all into a little one-seated chaise, 
called a '■'• SediolaJ^ Generally the journey is performed with 
ease in three hours and a half, but as I v/ished to pass the 
delightful day-time in the open air, I was glad that the Vet- 
turino fell short of his duty. The route goes constantly south- 
wards over the most fertile plains, and between hedges and 
trees, without further prospect, until at last the beautiful 
mountains, extending from the east towards the south, are 
seen on the right hand. The abundance of the festoons of 
plants and fruit, which hang over walls and hedges, and dowr-. 
the trees, is indescribable. The roofs are 3oaded with gourds, 
and the strangest sort of cucumbers are banging from poles 
and trellises. 

From the observatory I could take the clearest survey pos- 
sible of the fine situation of the town. Towards the north 
are the Tyrolese mountains, covered with snow, and half 
bidden by clouds, and joined by the Yicentian mountains on 



PADUA. 2S5 

the north-west. Then towards the west are the nearer moun- 
tains of Este, the shapes and recesses of which are plainly to 
be seen. Towards the south-east is a verdant sea of plants, 
without a trace of elevation, tree after tree, bush after bush, 
plantation after plantation, while houses, villas, and churches, 
dazzling with whiteness, peer out from among the green. 
Against the horizon I plainly saw the tower of St. Mark's at 
Venice, with other smaller towers. 



Padua, Sept. 17. 

I have at last obtained the works of Palladio, not indeed 
the original edition, which I saw at Vicenza, where the cuts 
are in wood, but a fac-simile in copper, published at the 
expense of an excellent man, named Smith, who was formerly 
the English consul at Venice. We must give the English this 
credit, that they have long known how to prize what is good, 
and have a magnificent way of diffiising it. 

On the occasion of this purchase I entered a book-shop, 
which in Italy presents quite a peculiar appearance. Around 
it are arranged the books, all stitched, and during the whole 
day good society may be found in the shop, which is a lounge 
for all the secular clergy, nobiUty, and artists who are in any 
way connected with literature. One asks for a book, opens 
it, and amuses himself as one can. Thus I found a knot of 
half a dozen all of whom became attentive to me, when I 
asked for the works of Palladio. While the master of the 
shop looked for the book, they commended it, and gave me infor- 
mation respecting the original and the copy ; they were well 
acquainted with the work itself and with the merits of the author. 
Taking me for an architect they praised me for having recourse 
to this master in preference to aU the rest, saying that he was 
of more practical utility than Vitruvius himself, since he had 
thoroughly stvfdied the ancients and antiquity, and had sought 
to adapt the latter to the wants of our own times. I con- 
versed for a long time with these friendly men, learned some- 
thing about the remarkable objects in the city, and took my 
leave. 

Where men have built churches to ssiits, a place may some- 
times be found in them, where monuments to intellectual 
men may be set up. The bust of Cardinal Bembo stands 



286 LETTERS FEOM ITALY. 

between Ionic columns. It is a handsome face, strongly drawn 
in, if I may use the expression, and with a copious beard. 
The inscription runs thus: "Petri Bembi Card, imaginem 
Hier. Guerinus Ismeni f. in publico ponendam curayit ut 
cujus ingenii monumenta a^terna sint, ejus corporis quoque 
memoria ne a posteritate desideretur." 

With all its dignity the University gave me the horrors, as a 
building. I am glad that I had nothing to learn in it. One cannot 
imagine such a narrow compass for a school, even though, 
as the student of a German university, one may have suffered 
a great deal on the benches of the Auditorium. The anato- 
mical theatre is a perfect model of the art of pressing students 
together. The audience are piled one above another in a tall 
pointed funnel. They look down upon the narrow space 
where the table stands, and, as no daylight falls upon it, the 
Professor must demonstrate by lamplight. The botanic gar- 
den is much more pretty and cheerful. Several plants can 
remain in the ground during the winter, if they are set near 
the walls, or at no great distance from them. At the end of 
October the whole is built over, and the process of heating is 
carried on for the few remaining months. It is pleasant and 
instructive to walk through a vegetation that is strange to us. 
"With ordinary plants, as well as with other objects that have 
been long familiar to us, we at last do not think at all, and 
what is looking without thinking ? Amidst this variety which 
comes upon me quite new, the idea that all forms of plants 
may, perhaps, be developed from a single form, becomes more 
lively than ever. On this principle alone it would be possible 
to define orders and classes, which, it seems to m.e, has hitherto 
been done in a very arbitrary manner. At this point I stand 
fast in my botanical philosophy, and I do not see how I am to 
extricate myself. The depth and breadth of this business 
seem to me quite equal. 

The great square, called Prato della Valle, is a very wide 
space, where the chief fair is held in June. The wooden 
booths in the middle of it do not produce the most favourable 
appearance, but the inhabitants assure me that there wiU soon 
be dujiera of stone litsre, like that at Verona. One has hopes 
of this ah-eady, from the manner in which the Prato is sur- 
rounded, and which affords a very beautiful and imposing view- 

A huge oval is surrounded with statues, all representing 



PADUA, 287 

celebrated men, who have taught or studied at the Univer- 
sity. Any native or foreigner is allowed to erect a statue 
of a certain size to any countryman or kinsman, as soon as the 
merit of the person and his academical residence at Padua are 
proved. 

A moat filled with water goes round the oval. On the four 
bridges which lead up to it stand colossal figures of Popes and 
Doges; the other statues, which are smaller, have been set 
up by corporations, private individuals, or foreigners. The 
King of Sweden caused a figure of Gustavus Adolphus to be 
erected, because it is said he once heard a lecture in Padua. 
The Archduke Leopold revived the memory of Petrarch and 
Galileo. The statues are in a good, modern style, a few of 
them rather affected, some very natural, and all in the 
costume of their rank and dignity. The inscriptions deserve 
commendation. There is nothing in them absurd or paltry. 

At any university the thought would have been a happy 
one (and here it is particularly so), because it is very delight- 
ful to see a whole line of departed worthies thus called back 
again. It will perhaps form a very beautiful Prato, when the 
wooden Fiera shall' be removed, and one built of stone, accord- 
ing to the aforesaid plan. 

In the consistory of a fraternity dedicated to S. Anthony, 
there are some pictures of an early date, which remind one of 
the old German paintings, and also some by Titian, in which 
may be remarked the great progress which no one has made 
on the other side of the Alps. Immediately afterwards I saw 
works by some of the most modern painters. These artists, 
as they could not hope to succeed in the lofty and the serious, 
have been very happy in hitting the humorous. The decol- 
lation of John by Piazetta is, in this sense, a capital picture, 
if one can once allow the master's manner. John is kneeling-, 
with his hands before him, and his right knee on a stone, looking 
towards heaven. One of the soldiers, who is binding him, is 
bending round on one side, and looking into his face, as if he 
was wondering at his patient resignation. Higher up stands 
another, who is to deal the fatal blow. He does not, however, 
hold the sword, but makes a motion with his hands, like one 
who is practising the stroke beforehand. A third is drawing 
the sword out of the scabbard. The thought is happy, if not 
grand, and the composition is striking and produces the best 
effect. 



288 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

In the cliTircli of the Eremitani I have seen pictures by 
Mantegna, one of the older painters, at which I am astonished. 
What a sharp, strict actuaHty is exhibited in these pictures ! 
It is from this actuaHty, thoroughly true, not apparent, merely 
and falsely effective, and api^ealing solely to the imagination, 
but solid, pure, bright, elaborated, conscientious, delicate, and 
circumscribed — an actuality which had about it something 
severe, credulous, and laborious; it is from this, I say, thai 
the later painters proceeded (as I remarked in the pictures b^ 
Titian), in order that by the liveliness of their own genius, 
the energy of their nature illumined at the same time by tho 
mind of the predecessors, and exalted by their force, they 
might rise higher and higher, and elevated above the earth, 
produce forms that were heavenly indeed, but still true. 
Thus was art developed after the barbarous period. 

The haU of audience in the town-house, properly designated 
by the augmentative " Salone," is such a huge inclosure 
that one cannot conceive it, much less recall it to one's imme- 
diate memory. It is three hundred feet long, one hundred feet 
broad, and one hundred feet high, measured up to the roof, 
which covers it quite in. So accustomed are these people to 
live in the open air, that the architects look out for a market- 
place to over-arch. And there is no question that this huge 
vaulted space produces quite a peculiar effect. It is an 
inclosed infinity, which has more analogy to man's habits and 
feelings than the starry heavens. The latter takes us out of 
ourselves, the former insensibility brings us back to our- 
selves. 

For the same reason I also like to stay in the Church of 
S. Justina. This church, which is eighty -five feet long, and high 
and broad in proportion, is built in a grand and simple style. 
This evening I seated myself in a corner, and indulged in 
quiet contemplation. Then I felt myself truly alone, for no 
one in the world, even if he had thought of me for the 
moment, would have looked for me here. 

Now everything ought to be packed up again, for to-mor- 
row morning I set off by water, upon the Brenta. It rained 
to-day, but nov/ it has cleared up, and I hope I shall be able 
to see the lagunes and the Bride of the Sea by beautiful day- 
liglit, and to greet my friends from her bosom. 



VENICE. 

Nov/ it stood wiitten on my page in the Book of Fate, that 
on the evening of the 28th of September, by 5 o'clock, German 
time, I should see Venice for the first time, as I passed from 
the Brenta into the lagunes, and that, soon afterwards, I 
should actually entea: and visit this strange island-city, this 
heaven-like republic. So now, Heaven be praised, Venice ia 
no longer to me a bare and a hollow name, which has so 
long tormented me, — mc, the mental enemy of mere verbal 
sounds. 

As the first of the gondoliers came up to the ship (they 
come in order to convey more quickly to Venice those passen- 
gers who are in a hui-ry), I recollected an old plaything, ot 
which, perhaps, I had not thought for twenty years. My 
father had a beautiful model of a gondola which he had 
brought with him [Jrom Italy] ; he set a great value upon it, 
and it was considered a great treat, when I was allowed to 
play with it. The first beaks of tinned iron-plate, the black 
gondola-gratings, all greeted me like old acquaintances, and 
I experienced again dear emotions of my childhood which had 
been long unknown. 

I am well lodged at the sign of the Queen of England, not 
far from the square of S. Mark, which is, indeed, the chief 
advantage of the spot. My windows look upon a narrow 
canal between lofty nouses, a bridge of one arch is immedi- 
ately below me, and directly opposite is a narrow, bustling 
alley. Thus am I lodged, and here I shall remain until I 
have made up my packet for Germany, and until I am satiated 
with the sight of the city. I can now really enjoy the soli- 
tude for which I have longed so ardently, for now^here does a 
man feel himself more solitary than in a crowd, where he 
must push his way unknown to every one. Perhaps in Venice 
there is only one person who knows me, and he will not come 
in contact with me all at once. 



Venice, September 23, 1786. 
A few words on my journey hither from Padua,. The pas- 
sage on the Brenta, in the public vessel, and in good company, 
is highly agreeable. The banks are ornamented with gardens 
and villas, little hamlets come down to the water's edge, and 
Vol. II. u 



290 LETTERS rilO:M ITALY. 

the animated higliroad may be seen here and there. As the 
descent of the river is by means of locks, there is often a little 
pause, which may be employed in looking about the country, 
and in tasting the fruits, which are offered in great abundance. 
You then enter your vessel again, and move on through a 
world, which is itself in motion, and which is full of life and 
fertility. 

To so many changing forms and images a phenomenon was 
added, which, although derived from Germany, was quite in 
its place here — I mean two pilgrims, the first whom I have 
seen closely. They have a right to travel gratis in this public 
conveyance ; but because the rest of the passengers dishke 
coming into contact with them, they do not sit in the covered 
part, but in the after-part beside the steersman. They were 
stared at as a phenomenon even at the present day, and as in 
former times many vagabonds had made use of. this cloak, 
they were but lightly esteemed. When I learned that they 
were Germans, and could speak no language but their own, I 
joined them, and found that they came from the Paderboru 
territory. Both of them were men of more than fifty years 
of age, and of a dark, but good-humoured physiognomy. They 
had first visited the sepulchre of the "Three Kings" at 
Cologne, had then travelled thi'ough Germany, and were now 
together on their way back to Eome and Upper Italy, whence 
one intended to set out for "Westphalia, and the other to pay 
a visit of adoration to St. James of Compostella. 

Their dress was the well-known costume of pilgrims, but 
they looked much better with this tucked up robe, than the 
pilgrims in long taffeta garments, we are accustomed to exhibit 
at our masquerades. The long cape, the round hat, the staff 
and cockle (the latter used as the most innocent drinking- 
vessel) — all had its signification, and its immediate use, while 
a tin-case held their passports. Most remarkable of all were 
their small, red morocco pocket-books, in which they kept all 
the little implements that might be wanted for any simple 
necessity. They took them out on finding that something 
wanted mending in their garments. 

The steersman, highly pleased to find an interpreter, made 
me ask them several questions, and thus I learned a great 
deal about their views, and especially about their expedition, 
lliey made bitter complaints a|?ainst their brethren in the 



THE PASSAGE TO VENICE. 291 

faith, and even against tlie clergy, both secular and monastic. 
Kety, they said, must be a very scarce commodity, since no 
one would believe in theirs, but they were treated as vagrants 
in almost every Catholic country, although they produced the 
route which had been clerically prescribed, and the passports 
given by the bishop. On the other hand, they described, with 
a great deal of emotion, how well they had been received by 
protestants, and made special mention of a country clergyman 
in Suabia, and still more of his wife, who had prevailed on her 
somewhat unwilling husband to give them an abundant repast, 
of >rt^ich they stood in great need. On taking leave, the good 
couple had given them a " convention's dollar,"-"' which they 
found very serviceable, as soon as they entered the CathoHc 
territory. Upon this, one of them said, with all the elevation 
of which he v/as capable: " We include this lady every day 
in om- prayers, and implore God that he will open her eyes, 
as he has opened her heart towards us, and take her, although 
late, into the bosom of the Catholic Church. And thus we 
hope that we shall meet her in Paradise hereafter." 

As I sat upon the little gang- way which led to the deck, 
I explained as much as was necessary and useful to the steers- 
man, and to some other persons who had crowded from the 
cabin into this narrow space. The pilgrims received some 
paltry donations, for the Italian is not fond of giving. Upon 
this they di-ew out some little consecrated tickets, on which 
might be seen the representation of the three sainted kings, 
with some prayers addressed to them. The worthy men 
entreated me to distribute these tickets among the little party, 
and explain how iuTaluable they were. In this I succeeded 
perfectly, for when the two men appeared to be greatly em- 
barrassed as to how they should find the convent devoted to 
pilgrims in so large a place as Venice, the steersman was 
touched, and promised that, when they landed, he would give 
a boy a trifle to lead them to that distant spot. He added to 
me in confidence, that they would find but little welcome. 
" The institution," he said, " was founded to admit I don't 
know how many pilgrims, but now it has become greatly con- 
tracted, and the revenues are otherwise employed." 

* A "convention's dollar" is a dollar coined in consequence of an 
agreement made between several of the German states, ir. the year 1750 
when the Viennese standard was ado^Dted. — Trans. 

u 2 



292 . LETTERS TROn ITALY. 

During this conversation we had gone down the beautiful 
Brenta, leaving behind us many a noble garden, and many a 
noble palace, and casting a rapid glance at the populous and 
thriving hamlets, v/hich lay along the banks. Several gon- 
dolas wound about the ship as soon as we had entered the 
lagunes. A Lombard, well acquainted with Venice, asked 
me to accompany him, that we might enter all the quicker, 
and escape the nuisance of the custom-house. Those who 
endeavoured to hold us ' back, he contrived to put off with a 
little drink-money, and so, in a cheerful sunset, we floated to 
the place of our destination. 



Sept. 29 {Michaelmas-Day), Evening. 

So much has already been told and printed about Venice, 
that I shall not be circumstantial in my description, but shall 
only say how it struck me. Now, in this instance again, that 
which makes the chief impression upon me, is the people, — a 
great mass, who live an involuntary existence determined by 
the changing circumstances of the moment. 

It was for no idle fancy that this race fl.ed to these islands ; 
• it was no mere whim which impelled those who followed to 
combine with them; necessity taught them to look for secm-ity 
in a highly disadvantageous situation, that afterwards became 
most advantageous, enduing them with talent, when the whole 
northern world was immersed in gloom. Their increase and 
their wealth were a necessary consequence. New dwellings 
arose close against dwellings, rocks took the place of sand and 
marsh, houses sought the sky, being forced like trees inclosed 
in a narrow compass, to seek in height what was denied them 
in breadth. Being niggards of every inch of ground, as having 
been from the very first compressed into a narrow compass, 
they allowed no more room for the streets than was just neces- 
sary to separate a row of houses from the one opposite, and to 
afford the citizens a narrow passage. Moreover, water sup- 
plied the place of street, square, and promenade. The Vene- 
tian was forced to become a new creature; and thus Venice 
can only be compared with itself. The large canal, winding 
like a serpent, yields to no street in the world, and nothing can 
be put by the side of the space in front of St. Mark's square — I 
mean thatgreatmirror of water, which is encompassed by Venice 



VENICE. 293 

Proper, in the form of a crescent. Across the watery surface 
you see to the left the island of St. Georgio Maggiore, to the 
right a little, further off the Guidecca and its canal, and still 
more distant the Dogana (Custom-house) and the entrance 
into the Canal Grande, where right before us. two immense 
marble temples are ghttering in the sunshine. All the views 
and prospects have been so often engraved, that my friends 
will have no difficulty in forming a clear idea of them. 

After dinner I hastened to fix my first impression of the 
whole, and without a guide, and merely observing the car- 
dinal points, threw myself into the labyrinth of the city, which 
though everj^here intersected by larger or smaller canals, 
is again connected by bridges. The narrow and crowded 
appearance of the whole cannot be conceived by one who has 
not seen it. In most cases one can quite or nearly measm-e 
the breadth of the street, by stretching out one's arms, and 
in the narrowest, a person would scrape his elbows if he 
walked with his arms a-kimbo. Some streets, indeed, are 
mder, and here and there is a little square, but comparatively 
all may be called narrow. 

I easily found the grand canal, and the principal bridge — 
the Rialto, which consists of a single arch of white marble. 
Looking down from this, one has a fine prospect, — the canal 
full of ships, which bring every necessary from the con- 
tinent, and put in chiefly at this place to unload, while, 
between them is a swarm of gondolas. To-day, especially, 
being Micha-elmas, the view was wonderfully animated; but 
to give some notion of it, I must go back a little. 

The two principal parts of Venice, which are divided by 
the grand canal, are connected by no other bridge than the 
Rialto, but several means of communication are provided, 
and the river is crossed in open boats at certain fixed points. 
To-day a very pretty effect was produced, by the number of 
well-dressed ladies, who, their features concealed beneath 
large black veils, were being ferried over in large parties at a 
time, in order to go to the church of the Archangel, whose 
festival was being solemnised. I left the bridge and went to 
one of the points of landing, to see the parties as they left the 
boats. I discovered some very fine forms and faces among 
them. 

After I had become tired of this amusement. T seated mysel/ 



294 LETTEES FROM ITA-LY. 

in a gondola, and, quitting the narrow streets with the inten- 
tion of witnessing a spectacle of an opposite description, went 
along the northern part of the grand canal, into the lagunes, 
and then entered the canal della Guidecca, going as far as the 
square of St. Mark. Now was I also one of the birds of the 
Adriatic sea, as every Venetian feels himself to be, whilst re- 
clining in his gondola. I then thought with due honour of my 
good father, who knew of nothing better than to talk aboui 
the things I now witnessed. And will it not be so with 
me likewise? All that surrounds me is dignified — a grand 
venerable work of combined human energies, a noble 
monument, not of a ruler, but of a people. And if their 
lagunes are gradually filling up, if unwholesome vapours 
are floating over the marsh, if their trade is declining and 
their power has sunk, still the great place and the essen- 
tial character will not for a moment, be less venerable to the 
observer. Venice succumbs to time, like everything that has 
a phenomenal existence. 



Sept. 30. 

Towards evening I again rambled, without a guide, into the 
remotest quarters of the city. The bridges here are all pro- 
vided, with stairs, that gondolas, and even larger vessels, may 
pass conveniently under the arches. I sought . to find my 
way in and out of this labyrinth, without asking anybody, 
and, on this occasion also, only guiding myself by the points 
of the compass. One disentangles one's self at last, but it is a 
wonderful complication, and my manner of obtaining a sen- 
sible impression of it, is the best. I have now been to the 
remotest points of the city, and observed the conduct, mode of 
life, manners, and character of the inhabitants ; and in every 
quarter they are different. Gracious Heaven ! — ^What a poor 
good sort of animal man is, after all ! 

Most of the smaller houses stand immediately on the canals, 
but there are here and there quays of stone, beautifully 
paved, along which one may take a pleasant walk between the 
water, and the churches, and palaces. Particularly cheerful 
and agreeable is the long stone quay on the northern side, from 
vzhich the islands are visible, especially Murano, which is j 



TENICE, 295 

Venice on a small scale. The intervening lagunes r^-e all 
alive with little gondolas. 



Sept. 30. JEvenhig. 
To-day I have enlarged my notions of Yenice by procuring 
a plan of it. When I had studied it for some time, I ascended 
the tower of St. Mark, where an unique spectacle is presented 
to the eye. It was noon, and the sim was so bright that I 
could see places near and distant without a glass. The tide 
covered the lagunes, and when I turned my eyes towards 
what is called the Lido (this is a narrow strip of earth, which 
bounds the lagunes), I saw the sea for the first time with 
some sails upon it. In the lagunes themselves some gaUies 
and frigates are lying, destined to join the Chevalier Emo, 
who is making war on the Algerines, but detained by un- 
favorable winds. The mountains of Padua and Vicenza, and 
the mountain-chain of TjtoI, .beautifully bound the picture 
between the north and west. 



October 1. 

I went out and surveyed the city from many points of view, 
and as it was Sunday, I was struck by the great want of 
cleanliness in the streets, whicii forced me to make some 
reflections. There seems to be a sort of policy in this mat- 
ter, for the people scrape the sweepings into the corners, and 
I see large ships going backwards and forwards, which at 
several points He to, and take off the accumulation. They 
belong to the people of the smTOunding islands, who are in 
want of manure. But, however, there is neither consistency 
nor strictness in this method, and the want of cleanliness in 
the city is the more unpardonable, as in it, as much provi- 
sion has been made for cleaning it, as in any Dutch town. 

AU the streets are paved — even those in the remotest quarters, 
with bricks at least, which are laid down lengthwise, with the 
edges slightly canting: the middle of the street where neces- 
sary is raised a little, while channels are formed on each side 
to receive the water, and convey it into covered drains. 
There are other architectm'al arrangements in the original 
well-considered plan, which prove the intention of the ex- 
cellent architects to make Venice the most cleanly, as well as 



296 LETTEES FROM ITALY. 

the most singular of cities. As I walked along I could not 
refrain from sketching a body of regulations on the subject, 
anticipating in thought some superintendent of police, who 
might act in earnest. Thus one always feels an. inclination 
to sweep one's neighbour's door. 



Oct. 2, 1786. 

Before all things I hastened to the Caritd. I had found in 
Palladio's works that he had planned a monastic building 
here, in which he intended to represent a private residence 
of the rich and hospitable ancients. The plan, which was 
excellently drawn, both as a whole and in detail, gave me 
infinite delight, and I hoped to find a marvel. Alas ! scarcely 
a tenth part of the edifice is finished. However, even this 
part is worthy of that heavenly genius. There is a complete- 
ness in the plan, and an accuracy in the execution, which I had 
never before witnessed. One ought to pass whole years in 
the contemplation of such a work. It seems to me that I 
have seen nothing grander, nothing more perfect, and I fancy 
that I am not mistaken. Only imagine the admirable artist, 
born with an inner feeling for the grand and the pleasing, 
now, for the first time, forming himself by the ancients, with 
incredible labour, that he may be the means of reviving them. 
He finds an opportunity to carry out a favorite thought in 
building a convent, which is destined as a dwelling for so many 
monks, and a shelter for so many strangers, in the form of an 
antique private residence. 

The church was already standing and led to an atrium of 
Corinthian columns. Here one feels delighted, and forgets 
all priestcraft. At one end, the sacristy, at another, a chapter- 
room is found, while there is the finest winding stair-case in 
the world, with a wide well, and the stone-steps built into 
the wall, and so laid, that one supports another. One is never 
tired of going up and down this stair-casfe, and we may judge 
.of its success, from the fact that Palladio himself declares 
that he has succeeded. The fore-court leads to the large 
inner- court. Unfortunately, nothing is finished of the build- 
ing which was to surround this, except the left side. Here 
there are three rows of columns, one over the other ; on the 
ground-floor are the halls, on the first story is an archway iii 



VENICE. 297 

front of the cells, and the upper story consists of a plain wall 
with mndows. However, this description should be illus- 
trated by a reference to the sketches. I will just add a word 
about the execution. 

Only the capitals and bases of the columns, and the 
key-stones of the arches, are of hewn stone ; all the rest is 
—I will not say of brick, but- — of burned clay. This de- 
scription of tile I never saw before. The frieze and cornice 
are of the same material, as well as the parts of the arch. 
All is but half burnt, and lastly the building is put together 
with a very little lime. As it stands it looks as if it had 
been produced at one cast. If the whole had been finished, 
and it had been properly rubbed up and coloured, it would 
have been a charming sight. 

However, as so often happens with buildings of a modern 
time, the plan was too large. The artist had pre-supposed not 
only that the existing convent would be pulled down, but also 
that the adjoining houses would be bought, and here money 
and inclination probably began to fail. Kind Destiny, thou 
who hast formed and perpetuated so much stupidity, why 
didst thou not allow this work to be completed ! 



Oct. 3. 

The chm'ch II Redentore is a large and beautiful work by Pal- 
ladio, with a fa9ade even more worthy of praise than that of 
S. Giorgio. These works, which have often been engraved, 
must be placed before you, to elucidate what is said. I will 
only add a few words. 

Palladio was thoroughly imbued with the antique mode of 
existence, and felt the narrow, petty spirit of his own age, 
like a great man who will not give way to it, but strives to 
mould all that it leaves him, as far as possible, into accord- 
ance with his own ideas. From a slight perusal of his book 
I conclude that he was displeased with the continued practice 
of building Christian churches after the form of the ancient 
Basilica, and, therefore, sought to make his own sacred edifices 
approximate to the form of the antique temple. Hence arose 
certain discrepancies, which, as it seemed to me, are happily 
avoided in II Redentore, but are rather obvious in the S. 
Oiorgio. Volckmann says something about it, but does not 
^t the nail on the head. 



298 TiETIEKS FUOM ITALY. 

The interior of II Redentore is likewise admii-able. Every- 
thing, including even the designs of the altars, is by Paliadio. 
Unfortunately, the niches, which should have been filled with 
statues, are glaring with wooden figures, flat, carved, and 
painted. 



October 3. 

In honour of S. Francis, S. Peter's capuchins have splendidly 
adorned a side altar. There was nothing to be seen of stone 
but the Corinthian capitals ; all the rest seemed to be covered 
with tasteful but splendid embroidery, in the arabesque style, 
and the effect was as pretty as could be desired. I particu- 
larly admired the broad tendrils and foliage, embroidered in 
gold. Going nearer, I discovered an ingenious deception. 
All that I had taken for gold was, in fact, straw pressed flat, 
and glued upon paper, according to some beautiful outlines, 
Avhile the ground was painted with lively colours. This is 
done with such variety and tact, that the design, which was 
probably worked in the convent itself, with a material that 
was worth nothing, must have cost several thousand dollars, 
if the materialhad been genuine. It might on occasion be 
advantageously imitated 

On one of the quays, and in front of the water I have often 
remarked a little fellow telling stories in the Venetian dialect, 
to a greater or less concourse of auditors. Unfortunately I 
cannot understand a word, but I observe that no one laughs, 
though the audience, who are composed of the lowest class, 
occasionally smile. There is nothing striking or ridiculous 
in the man's appearance, but, on the contrary, something very 
sedate, with such admirable variety and precision in his ges- 
tures, that they evince art and reflection. 



October 3. 
With my plan in my hand I endeavored to find my way 
through the strangest labyrinth to the church of the Mendu 
canti. Here is the conservatorium, which stands in the high- 
est repute at the present day. The ladies performed an 
oratorio behind the grating, the church was filled with hear- 
ers, the music was very beautiful, and the voices were magui- 



VENICE. 299' 

ficent. An alto snng the part of King Saul, the chief per- 
sonage in the poem. Of such a voice I had no notion what- 
ever ; some passages of the music were excessively beautiful, 
and the words, which were Latin, most laughably Italianized 
in some places, were perfectly adapted for singing. Music 
here has a wide field. 

The performance would have been a source of great enjoy- 
ment, if the accm^sed Maestro di Capella had not beaten time 
with a roll of music against the grating, as conspicuously as if 
he had to do with school-boys, whom he was instructing. As 
the girls had repeated the piece often enough, his noise was 
quite unnecessary, and destroyed all impression, as much as 
he would, who, in order to make a beautiful statue intelligible 
to us, should stick scarlet patches on the joints. The foreign 
soimd destroys all harmony. Now this man is a musician, 
and yet he seems not to be sensible of this ; or, more properly 
speaking, he chooses to let his presence be known by an 
impropriety, when it would have been much better to allow 
his value to be perceived by the perfection of the execution. 
I know that this is the fault of the French, but I did not give 
the Italians credit for it, and yet the public seems accustomed 
to it. This is not the first time that that which spoils enjoy- 
ment, has been supposed to belong directly to it. 



October 3. 

Yesterday evening I went to the Opera at the S. Moses (for 
the theatres take their name from the church to which they 
lie nearest) ; nothing very delightful ! In the plan, the music, 
and the singers, that energy was wanting, which alone can 
devate opera to the highest point. One could not say of any 
part that it was bad, but the two female actresses alone took 
pains, not so much to act well, but to set themselves off and 
to please. That is something, after all. These two actresses 
have beautiful figures, and good voices, and are nice, lively, 
compact, little bodies. Among the men, on the other hand, 
there is no trace of national power, or even of pleasure, in 
working on the imaginations of their audience. Neither is 
there among them any voice of decided brilliancy. 

The ballet, which was wretchedly conceived, was con- 
demned as a whole, but some excellent dancers and danseuses. 



»00 liETTERa FROM. ITALY. 



the latter of whom considered it their duty to make the spei5«. 
tators acquainted with all their persoj»aJ. charms, were heartily 
applauded. 



October 5. 

To-day, however, I saw another comedy, which gave me 
more pleasure. In the ducal palace I heard the public discus- 
sion of a law case. It was important, and, happily for me, 
was brought forwa-rd in the holidays. One of the advocates 
had all the qualifications for an exaggerated buffo. His figure 
was short and fat, but supple; in profile his features were 
monstrously prominent. He had a stentorian voice, and a 
vehemence as if everything that he said came in earnest from 
the very bottom of his heart. I call this a comedy, because, 
probably, everything had been already prepared when the 
public exhibition took place. The judges knew what they 
had to say, and the parties what they had to expect. How- 
ever, this plan pleases me infinitely more than our hobbling 
law afiairs. I will endeavor to give some notion of the par- 
ticulars, and of the neat, natural, and unostentatious manner 
in which everything takes place. 

In a spacious hall of the ])alace the judges were sitting on 
one side, in a half circle. Opposite to them, in a tribune which 
could hold several persons, were the advocates for both par- 
ties ; and upon a bench immediately in front of them, the 
plantiff, and defendant in person. The advocate for the 
plaintiff had descended from the tribune, since there was 
to be no controversy at this day's sitting. All the documents, 
on both sides, were to be read, although they were already 
printed. 

A lean clerk, in a black scanty gown, and with a thick 
bundle in his hand, prepared to perform the office of a 
reader. The hall was completely crammed with persons who 
came to see and to hear. The point of law itself, and the 
persons whom it concerned, must have appeared highly im- 
portant to the Venetians. 

Trust-estates are so decidedly secured in Venice, that a 
property once stamped with- this character, preserves it for 
ever, though it may have been divested ages apjo by appro- 
priations or other circumstances, and though it may have 



■ TENICS. 301 

passed tlu-ougli ever so many hands. "When the matter 
comes into disiDiite the descendants of the first family recover 
their right, and the property must be delivered up. 

On this occasion the discussion was highly important, for 
the action was brought against the doge himself, or rather 
against his wife, who veiled by her zendal, or little hood, 
sat only at a Httle distance from the plaintiff. She was a . 
lady of a certain age, of noble stature, and with well-formed 
features, in which there was something of an earnest, not to 
say fretful character. The Venetians make it a great boast 
that the princess in her own palace, is obliged to appear 
before them and the tribunal. 

When the clerk began to read, I for the first time clearly 
discerned the business of a little man vrho sat on a low 
stool behind a small table opposite the judges, and near the 
advocates. More especially I learned the use of an hour-glass, 
which was placed before him. As long as the clerk reads, 
time is not heeded, but the advocate is only allowed a cer- 
tain time, if he speaks in the course of the reading. The 
clerk reads, and the hour-glass lies in a horizontal position, 
with the little man's hand upon it. As soon as the advocate 
opens his mouth, the glass is raised, and sinks again, as soon 
as he is silent. It is the great duty of the advocate to 
make remarks on what is read, to introduce cursory observa- 
tions in order to excite and challenge attention. This puts 
the little Saturn in a state of the greatest perplexity. He 
is obliged every moment to change the horizontal and vertical 
position of the glass, and finds himself in the situation of the 
evil spirits in the puppet-show, who by the quickly varying 
"Berliche, Berloche" of the mischievous Hansivurst% are 
puzzled whether they are to come or to go. 

Whoever has heard documents read over in a law-court, 
can imagine the reading on this occasion, — quick and mono- 
tonous, but plain and articulate enough. The ingenious advo- 
cate contrives to interrupt the tedium by jests, and the public 

* An allusion to the comic scene, in the puppet-play of Faust, from 
which Goethe took the subject of his poem. One of the two magic words 
(Berliche, Berloche) summons the devils, the other drives them away, 
and the Hanswurst (or buffoon), in a mock-incantation scene, perplexes 
the fiends, by uttering one word after the other, as rapidly as possible. 

Trans. 



302 LETTERS FK03C ITALY. 

6]lo^YS its delight in his jokes by immoderate laughter. 1 must 
mention one, the most striking of those I could understand. 
The reader was just reciting the document, by which, one, who 
was considered to have been illegally possessed of it, had dis- 
posed of the property in question. The advocate bade him 
lead more slowly, and when he plainly uttered the words: "I 
give and bequeath," the orator flew violently at the clerk and 
cried: "What will you give? What will you bequeath: 
you poor starved-out devil, nothing in the world belongs to 
you?" "However," — ^he continued, as he seemed to collect 
himself — "the illustrious owner was in the same predica- 
ment. He wished to give, he wished to bequeath that which 
belonged to him no more than to you." A burst of inextin- 
guishable laughter followed this sally, but the hour-glass at 
once resumed its horizontal position. The reader went 
mumbling on, and made a saucy face at the advocate ; but 
all these jokes are prepared beforehand. 



Oct. 4. 
I was yesterday at the play, in the theatre of S. Luke, 
and was highly pleased. I saw a piece acted extempore in 
masks, with a great deal of nature, energy, and vigour. The 
actors are not, indeed, all equal; the pantaloon is excellent, 
and one of the actresses, who is stout and well-built, speaks 
admirably, and deports herself cleverly, though she is no 
extraordinary actress. The subject of the piece is extra- 
vagant, and resembled that which is treated by us under the 
name of Der Verschlag (the partition). With inexhaustible 
variety it amused us for more than three hours. But even 
here the people is the base upon which everything rests, ther 
spectators are themselves actors, and the multitude is melted 
into one whole with the stage. All day long the buyer and 
the seller, the beggar, the sailor, the female gossip, the advo- 
cate and his opponent, are living and acting in the square 
and on the bench, in the gondolas and in the palaces, and make 
it theii' business to talk and to asseverate, to cry and to offer 
for sale, to sing and to play, to curse and to brawl. In the 
'ivenmg they go into the theatre, and see and hear the life of 
tne aay artificially put together, prettily set off, interwoven 
nmh a story, removed from reality by the masks, and brought 



YET^ICE. 303 

near to it by manners. In all this they take a childish delight 
and again shout and clap, and make a noise. From day to 
night, — nay, from midnight to midnight, it is always the 
same. 

I have not often seen more natural acting than that by these 
masks. It is such acting as can only be sustained by a 
remarkably happy talent and long practice. 

While I am writing this, they are making a tremendous 
noise on the canal under my window, though it is past mid- 
night. Whether for good or for evil, they are always doing 
something. 



October 4. 

I have now heard public orators; viz., thi-ee fellows in the 
square and on the stone-bench, each telling tales after his 
fashion, two advocates, two preachers, and the actors, among 
whom I must especially commend the pantaloon. All these 
have something in common, both because they belong to one 
and the same nation, which, as it always lives in public, 
always adopts an impassioned manner of speaking, and 
because they imitate each other. There is besides a marked 
language of gesticulations, with which they accompany the 
expressions of their intentions, views, and feelings. 

This day was the festival of S. Francis, and I was in his 
church Alle Vigne. The loud voice of the capuchin was 
accompanied by the cries of the salesmen in front of the 
church, as by an antiphone. I stood at the church-door 
between the two, and the effect was singular enough. 



Oct. 5. 

This morning I was in the arsenal, which I found interest- 
ing enough, though I know nothing of maritime affairs, and 
visited the lower school there. It has an appearance like 
that of an old family, which still bustles about, although its 
best time of blossom and fruit has passed. By paying atten- 
tion to the handicraftsmen, I have seen much that is remark- 
able, and have been on board an eighty-four gun ship, the 
hull of which is just completed. 

Six months ago a thing of the sort was burned doA^m to the 
water's edge, off the Riva dei Schiavoni. The powder-room v/aa 



304 LETTERS PEOM ITALY.- 

not veiy full, and wlien it blew up, it did no great damage. 
The windows of the neighbouring houses were destroyed. • 

I have seen. worked the finest oak from Istria, and have 
made my observations in return upon this valuable tree. 
That knowledge of the natural things used by man as 
materials, and employed for his wants, which I have acquired 
with so much difficulty, has been incalculably serviceable in 
explaining to me the proceedings of artists and artisans. The 
knowledge of mountains and of the stone taken out of them 
has been to me a great advance in art. 



Oct. 5. 

To give a notion of the Bucentaur in one word, I should 
say that it is a state-galley. The older one, of which we still 
have drawings, justified this appellation still more than the. 
present one, which, by its splendour makes us forget its 
original. 

I am always returning to my old opinions. When a genuine 
subject is given to an artist, his productions will be something 
genuine also. Here the artist was commissioned to form a 
galley, worthy to carry the heads of the Republic, on the 
highest festivals in honour of its ancient rule on the sea; and 
the problem has been admirably solved. The vessel is all 
ornament; we ought to say, it is overladen with ornament; it 
is altogether one piece of gilt carving, for no other use, but 
that of a pageant to exhibit to the people its leaders in right 
noble style. We know well enough that a people, who 
likes to deck out its boats, is no less pleased to see their 
rulers bravely adorned. This state-galley is a good index to 
show what the Venetians were, and what they considered 
themselves. 



Oct. 5. Night. 
I came home laughing from a tragedy, and must at once 
make the jest secure upon paper. The piece was not bad, the 
author had brought together all the tragic matadors, and the 
actors played well. Most of the situations were well known, 
but some were new and highly felicitous. There are two 
fathers, who hate each other, sons and daughters of these 



ye::^xc3^. 306 

eevered families, who respectively are passionately in love 
mth each other, and one conple is even privately married. 
Wild and cruel work goes on, and at last nothing remains 
to render the yoimg people happy, but to make the two lathers 
kill each other, upon which the curtain falls amid the liveliest 
applause. Now the applause becomes more vehement, now 
*' fuora" was called out, and this lasted until the two principal 
couples vouchsafed to crawl forward from behind the curtain, 
make their bow, and retire at the opposite side. 

The public was not yet satisfied, but went on clapping 
and crying: "i morti!" till the two dead men also come 
forward and made their bow, when some voices cried " bravi i 
morti!" The applause detained them for a long time, till at 
last they were allowed to depart. The effect is infinitely 
more di-oll to the eye-and-ear- witness, who, like me, has ring- 
ing in his ears the "bravo! bravi!" which the Italians have 
incessantly in their mouths, and then suddenly hears the dead 
also called forward with this word of honour. 

We of the north can say " good night" at any hour, when, 
we take leave after dark, but the Italian says: "Felicissima 
notte " only once, and that is when the candles are brought 
into a room. Day and night are thus divided, and something 
quite different is meant. So impossible is it to translate the 
idioms of any language! From the highest to the lowest 
word all has reference to the peculiarities of the natives, in 
character, opinions, or circumstances. 



Oct. 6. 

The tragedy yesterday taught me a great deal. In the first 
place, I have heard how the Italians treat and declaim their 
Eleven- syllable iambics, and in the next place, I have under- 
stood the tact of Gozzi in combining masks with his tragic 
personages. This is the proper sort of play for this people, 
which likes to be moved in a rough fashion. It has no ten- 
der, heart-felt sympathy for the unfortunate personage, but is 
only pleased when the hero speaks well. The Italians attach 
a great deal of importance to the speaking, and then they 
like to laugh, or to hear something silly. 

Their interest in the drama is like that in a real event. 
When the tvrant gave his son a sword and required him to 
Vol.. li. X 



306 LETTERS FROM. ITALY. 

kill liis own wife, who was standing opposite, the people 
began loudly to express their disapprobation of this demand, 
and there was a great risk that the piece would have been 
interrupted. They insisted that the old man should take his 
sword back,in which case all the subsequent situations in the 
drama would have been completely spoiled. At last, the dis- 
tressed son plucked up courage, advanced to the proscenium, 
and humbly entreated that the audience would have patience for 
a moment, assuring them that all would turn out to their 
entire satisfaction. But even judging from an artistical point 
of view, this situation was, under the circumstances, silly and 
unnatural, and I commended the people for their feeling. 

I can now better understand the long speeches and the 
frequent dissertations, pro and con, in the Greek tragedy. 
The Athenians liked still more to hear speaking, and were still 
better judges of it, than the Italians. They learned something 
li'om the courts of law, where they spent the whole day. 



Oct 6. 

In those works of Palladio, which are completed, I have 
found much to blame, together with much that is highly 
valuable. "While I was thinking it over in my mind how far 
I was right or ^vrong in setting my judgment in opposition to 
that of so extraordinary a man, I felt as if he stood by and 
said, "I did so and so against my will, but, nevertheless, I did 
it, because in this manner alone was it possible for me, under 
the given circumstances, to approximate to my highest idea." 

The more I think the matter over, it seems to me, that Pal- 
ladio, while contemplating the height and width of an already 
existing church, or of an old house to which he was to attach 
fagades, only considered: "How will you give the greatest 
form to these dimensions? Some ]3art of the detail must 
from the necessity of the case, be put out of its place or 
spoiled, and something unseemly is sure to arise here and 
there. Be that as it may, the whole will have a grand style, 
and you will be pleased with your work." 

And thus he carried out the great image which he had 
within his soul, just to the point where it was not quite suit- 
able, and where he was obliged in the detail to mutilate or to 
overcrowd it. 



VENICE. 307 

On the other hand, the wing of the Carita cannot be toe 
highly prized, for here the artist's hands were free, and he 
conld follow the bent of his own mind mthont constraint. If 
the convent were finished there would, perhaps, be no work 
of architecture more perfect throughout the present world. 

How he thought and how he worked becomes more and 
more clear to me, the more I read his works, and reflect how he 
treated the ancients; for he says few words, but they are 
all important. The fourth book, which illustrates the antique 
temples, is a good introduction to a judicious examination of 
ancient remains. 



Oct. 6. 

Yesterday evening I saw the Electra of Crebillon — ^that is 
to say, a translation— at the theatre S. Crisostomo. I cannot 
say, how absurd the piece appeared to me, and how terribly 
it tired me out. 

The actors are generally good, and know how to put off" the 
public with single passages, 

Orestes alone has three narratives, poetically set off, in one 
scene. Electra, a pretty little woman of the middle size and 
stature, with almost French vivacity, and with a good deport- 
ment, delivered the verses beautifully, only she acted the part 
madly from beginning to end, which, alas ! it requires. How- 
ever, I have again learned something. The Italian Iambic, 
which is invariably of eleven syllables, is very inconvenient for 
declamation, because the last syllable is always short, and 
causes an elevation of the voice against the will of the 
declaimer. 



Oct. 6. 
This morning I was present at high mass, which annually 
on this day the Doge must attend, in the church of St. Justina, 
to commemorate an old victory over the Turks. When the 
gilded barks, which carry the princes and a portion of the 
nobility approach the little square, when the boatmen, in 
their rare liveries, are plying their red-painted oars, when on 
the shore the clergy and the religious fraternities are standing, 
pushing, moving about, and waiting with their lighted torches 
fixed upon poles and portable silver chandeliers j then, when the 

X 2 



303 LE^rERS FEOM ITALY. 

gangways covered with carjoet are placed from the vessels to the 
shore, and first the full violet dresses of the Savii, next the 
ample red robes of the Senators are unfolded upon the pave- 
ment, and lastly when the old Doge adorned with his golden 
Phrygian cap, in his long golden talar and his ermine 
cloak, steps out of the vessel — when all this, I say, takes place 
in a little square before the portal of a church, one feels as if 
one were looking at an old worked tapestry, exceedingly well 
designed and coloured. To me, northern fugitive as I am, this 
ceremony gave a great deal of pleasm^e. With us, who parade 
nothing but short coats in our processions of pomp, and who 
conceive nothing greater than one performed with shouldered 
arms, such an aSair might be out of place. But these trains, 
these peaceful celebrations are all in keeping here. 

The Doge is a well-grown and well-shaped man, who, 
perhaps, suffers from ill health, but, nevertheless, for dignity's 
sake, bears himself upright under his heavy robe. In other 
respects he looks like the grandpapa of the whole race, and 
is kind and affable. His dress is very becoming, the little 
cap, which he wears under the large one, does not offend the 
eye, resting as it does upon the whitest and finest hair in the 
world. 

About fifty nohili, with long dark-red trains, were with 
him. For the most part they were handsome men, and there 
was not a single imcouth figure among them. Several of them 
were tall with large heads, so that the white curly wigs were 
very becoming to them. Their features are prominent ; the 
flesh of their faces is soft and white, without looldng flabby 
and disagreeable. On the contrary, there is an appearance of 
talent without exertion, repose, self-confidence, easiness of 
existence, and a certain joyousness pervades the whole. 

When all had taken their places in the church, and mass 
began, the fraternities entered by the chief door, and wsnt 
out at the side door to the right, after they had received holy 
water in couples, and made their obeisance to the high altar,, 
to the Doge, and the nobility. 



Oct. 6. 
This evening I bespoke the celebrated song of the mariners, 
who chaunt Tasso and Ariosto to melodies of their own. This 



YEisriCE. 309 

must actually be ordered, as it is not to be beard as a thing, of 
course, but ratber belongs to the half forgotten traditions of 
former times. I entered a gondola by moon-light, with one 
singer before and the other behind me. They sing their song^ 
taking up the verses alternately. The melody, which we 
know through Ilousseau, is of a middle kind, between choral 
and recitative, maintaining throughout the same cadence, with 
out any fixed time. The modulation is also uniform, only 
varying with a sort of declamation both tone and measure, 
according to the subject of the verse. But the spirit — ^the life 
of it, is as follows: — 

Without inquiring into the construction of the melody, 
suffice it to say that it is admirably suited to that easy class 
of people, who, always humming something or other to them- 
selves, adapt such tunes to any little poem they know by 
heart. 

Sitting on the shore of an island, on the bank of a canal, or 
on the side of a boat, a gondolier will sing away with a loud 
penetrating voice — the multitude admire force above every- 
thing—anxious only to be heard as far as possible. Over the 
silent mirror it travels far. Another in the distance, who is 
acquainted with the melody and knows the words, takes it up 
and answers mth the next verse, and then the first replies, 
so that the one is as it were the echo of the other. The song 
-continues through whole nights and is kept up without fatigue. 
The further the singers are from each other, the more touch- 
ing somids the strain. The best place for the listener is 
halfway between the two. 

In order to let me hear it, they landed on the bank of the 
Guidecca, and took up different positions by the canal. I 
walked backwards and forwards between them, so as to leave 
the one whose turn it was to sing, and to join the one who 
had just left off. Then it was that the effect of the strain 
first opened upon me. As a voice from the distance it 
sounds in the highest degree strange — as a lament without 
sadness: it has an incredible effect and is moving even to 
tears. I ascribed this to my own state of mind, but my old 
boatsman said: "e singolare, como quel canto intenerisce, e 
molto piu quando e piu ben cantato." He wished that I 
could hear the women of the Lido, especially those of Mala-- 
mocco, and Pelestrina. These also, he told me, chaimted Tasso 



310 liETTEKS FROM ITALY. 

and Ariosto to tlie same or similar m^elodies. He went om 
"in the evening, while their husbands are on the sea fishing, 
tliey are accustomed to sit on the beach, and with shrill-pene- 
trating voice to make these strains resound, until they catch 
from the distance the voices of their partners, and in this 
way they keep up a communication with them." Is not that 
beautiful? and yet, it is very possible that one who heard 
them close by, would take little pleasure in such tones which 
have to vie with the waves of the sea. Human, however, and 
true becomes the song in this way : thus is life given to the 
melody, on whose dead elements we should otherwise have 
been sadly puzzled. It is the song of one solitary, singing at 
a distance, in the hope that another of kindred feelings and 
sentiments may hear and answer. 



Venice, Oct 8, 1786. 

I paid a visit to the palace Pisani Moretta, for the sake of 
a charming picture by Paul Veronese. The females of the 
family of Darius are represented kneeling before Alexander 
and Hephsestion ; his mother, who is in the foreground, mis- 
takes Hephsestion for the king ; — turning away from her he 
points to Alexander. A strange story is told about this 
painting; the artist had been well received and for a long 
time honorably entertained in the palace; in return he 
secretly painted the picture and left it behind him as a 
present, roUed up under his bed. Certainly it well deserves 
to have had a singular origin, for it gives an idea of all the 
peculiar merits of this master. The great art with which he 
manages by a skilful distribution of light and shade, and 
by an equally clever contrast of the local colors, to pro- 
duce a most delightful harmony without throwing any same- 
ness of tone over the whole picture, is here most strikingly 
visible. Z^or the picture is in excellent preservation, and 
stands before us almost with the freshness of yesterday. — 
Indeed, whenever a painting of this order has suffered from 
neglect, our enjoyment of it is marred on the spot, even 
before we are conscious what the cause may be. 

"Whoever feels disposed to quarrel with the artist on the 
score of costume has only to say he ought to have painted a 
ficene of the sixteenth century ; and the matter is at an end. 



VENICE. 311 

The gradation in the expression from the mother thi'ough the 
wife to the daughters, is in the highest degree true and 
happy. The youngest princess, who Imeels behind all the 
rest, is a beautiful girl, and has a very pretty, but somewhat 
independent and haughty countenance. Her position does 
not at all seem to please her. 



October 8, 1786. 

My old gift of seeing the world with the eyes of that artist, 
whose pictures have most recently made an impression on me, 
has occasioned me some peculiar reflections. It is evident 
that +lie eye forms itself by the objects, which, from youth up, 
it is accustomed to look upon, and so the Venetian artist 
must see all things in a clearer and brighter light than other 
men. We, whose eye when out of doors, falls on a dingy 
soil, which, when not muddy, is dusty, — and which, always 
colourless, gives a sombre hue to the reflected rays, or at home 
spend om- lives in close, narrow rooms, can never attain to 
such a cheerful view of nature. 

As I floated down the lagunes in the full sunshine, and 
observed how the figures of the gondoliers in their motley 
costume, and as they rowed, Hglitly moving above the sides of 
the gondola, stood out from the bright green surface and against 
the blue sky, I caught the best and freshest type possible of 
the Venetian school. The sunshine brought out the local 
colours with dazzling brilliancy, and the shades even were so 
luminous, that, comparatively, they in their turn might serve 
as lights. And the same may be said of the reflection from 
the sea-gi'een water. All was painted "chiaro nell chiaro," 
so that foamy waves and Kghtning flashes were necessary to 
give it a grand finish (iim die Tupfchen auf sie zu sefzen). 

Titian and Paul have this brilliancy in the higbt^:st degree, 
and whenever we do not find it in any of their works, the 
piece is either damaged or has been touched up. 

The cupola and vaulting of St. Mark's, with its side-walls, 
^are covered with paintings — a mass of richly colored figures 
on a golden ground ; all in mosaic work : some of them very 
good, others but poor, according to the masters who furnished 
the cartoons. 

Circumstances here have strangely impressed on my mind 



812 1.ETTEIIS FROM ITALY. 

how everything depends on the first invention, and that this 
constitutes the right standard — the true genius — since with 
little square-pieces of glass (and here not in the soberest 
manner), it is possible to imitate the good as well as the bad. 
The art which furnished to the ancients their pavements, and 
to the Christians the vaulted cielings of their churches, fritters 
itself away in our days on snuff-box lids and bracelets-clasps. 
The present times are worse even than one thinks. 



Venice, October 8, 1786. 

In the Farsetti palace there is a valuable collection of casts 
from the best antiques. I pass over all such as I had seen 
before at Mannheim or elsewhere, and mention only new 
acquaintances. A Cleopatra in intense repose, with the asp 
coiled round her arm, and sinking into the sleep of death; — 
a Niobe shrouding with her robe her youngest daughter from 
the arrows of Apollo; — some gladiators; — a winged genius, 
resting in his flight; — -some philosophers, both in sitting and 
standing postures. 

They are works from which, for thousands of years to come, 
the world may receive delight and instruction, without ever 
being able to equal with their thanks the merits of the artists. 

Many speaking busts transported me to the old glorious 
times. Only I felt, alas, how backward I am in these studies ; 
however, I will go on with them — at least I know the way. 
Palladio has opened the road for me to this and every other 
art and life. That sounds probably somewhat strange, and 
yet not so paradoxical as when Jacob Bohme say« that, by 
seeing a pewter platter by a ray from Jupiter, he was en- 
lightened as to the whole universe. There is also in this 
collection a fragment of the entablatm-e of the temple of An- 
toninus and Faustina in Rome. 

The bold front of this noble piece of architecture reminded 
me of the capitol of the Pantheon at Mannheim. It is, indeed, 
something very different from our queer saints, piled up one 
above the other on little consoles after the gothic style of 
decoration, — something different from our tobacco-pipe-like 
shafts, — our little steeple-crowned towers, and foliated ter- 
minals, — from all taste for these — I am now, thank God, set 
free for ever ! 



VENICE. 313 

I will further mention a few works of statuary, which, as I 
|)assed along these last few days, I have observed with asto- 
nishment and instruction : before the gate of the arsenal two 
huge lions of white marble, — the one is half recumbent, rais- 
ing himself up on his fore-feet, — the other is lying down : 
noble emblems of the variety of life. They are of such huge 
^proportions, that all around appears little, and man himself 
would become as nought, did not sublime objects elevate him. 
They are of the best times of Greece, and were brought here 
from the Piraeus in the better days of the Republic. 

From Athens, too, in all probability, came two bas-reliefs 
which have been introduced in the church of St. Justina, the 
conqueress of the Turks. Unfortunately they are in some 
degree hidden by the church seats. The sacristan called my 
attention to them on account of the tradition that Titiau. 
modelled from them the beautiful angel in his picture of the 
martyrdom of St. Peter. The relievos represent genii who 
are decking themselves out with the attributes of the gods, — 
so beautiful in truth, as to transcend all idea or conception. 

Next I contemplated with quite peculiar feelings the naked 
colossal statue of Marcus Agrippa, in the court of a palace; a 
dolphin which is twisting itself by his side, points out the 
naval hero. How does such a heroic representation make 
the mere man equal to the gods! 

I took a close view of the horses of S. Mark's. Looking 
up at them from below, it is easy to see that they are spotted : 
in places they exhibit a beautiful yellow-metallic lustre, in 
others a coppery green has run over them. Viewing them 
more closely, one sees distinctly that once they were gilt all 
over, and long streaks are still to be seen over them, as the bar- 
barians did not attempt to file off the gold, but tried to cut it 
off. That, too, is well : thus the shape at least has been pre- 
served. 

A glorious team of horses, — I should like to hear the opinion 
of a good judge of horse-flesh. What seemed strange to me 
v/as, that closely viewed, they appear heavy, while from the 
piazza below they look as light as deer. 



314 lETTERS FEOM ITALY 

Octoher 8, 1786. 

Yesterday I set out early with my tutelary genius for the 
" Lido," the tongue of land which shuts in the lagunes, and 
divides them from the sea. We landed and walked straight 
across the isthmus. I heard a loud hollow murmur, — it was 
the sea! I soon saw it: it crested high against the shore, 
as it retired, — it was about noon, and time of ebb. I have 
then at last seen the sea with my own eyes, and followed it 
on its beautiful bed, just as it quitted it. I wished the 
children had been there to gather the shells ; child-like I 
myself picked up plenty of them; however, I attempted to 
make them useful ; I tried to dry in them some of the fluid 
of the cuttle fish, which here dart away from you in shoals. 

On the "Lido," not far from the sea, is the burial place of 
Englishmen, and a little further on, of the Jews : both alike 
are refused the privilege of resting in consecrated ground. I 
found here the tomb of Smith, the noble English consul, and 
of his first wife. It is to him that I owe my first copy of 
Palladio; I thanked him for it here in his unconsecrated 
grave. And not only unconsecrated, but half buried is the 
tomb. The "Lido" is at best but a sand-bank [daune): The 
sand is carried from it backwards and forwards by the wind, 
and thrown up in heaps is encroaching on every side. In a 
short time the monument, which is tolerably high, will no 
longer be visible. 

But the sea — ^it is a grand sight ! I will try and get a sail 
upon it some day in a fishing-boat : the gondolas never venture 
out so far. 



Oct. 8, 1786. 
On the sea-coast I found also several plants, whose charac- 
ters similar to others I already knew, enabled me to recognize 
pretty well their properties. They are all alike, fat and 
strong — full of sap and clammy, — and it is evident that the 
old salt of the sandy soil, but still more the saline atmosphere, 
gives them these properties. Like aquatic plants they abound 
in sap, and are fleshy and tough, like mountainous ones ; those 
whose leaves shew a tendency to put forth prickles, after the 
manner of thistles, have them extremely sharp and strong. 
I found a bush with leaves of this kind. It looked very much 



YENICE. ' 315 

like our harmless coltsfoot, only here it is armed with sharp 
weapons, — the leaves like leather, as also are the seed-vessels, 
and the stalk very thick and succulent. I bring with me 
seeds and specimens of the leaves. {Eryngium maritimum.) 

The fish-market, with its numberless marine productions, 
afforded me much amusement. I often go there to contem- 
plate the poor captive inhabitants of the sea. 



Venice, Oct. 9, 1786. 

A delicious day from morning to night! I have been 
towards Chiozza, as far as Pelestrina, where are the great 
structures, called Murazzi, which the Republic has caused to 
be raised against the sea. They are of hewn stone, and pro- 
perly are intended to protect from the fury of the wild ele- 
ment the tongue of land called the Lido, which separates the 
lagoons from the sea. 

The lagunes are the work of old nature. First of all, the land 
and tide, the ebb and flow, working against one another, and 
then the gradual sinking of the primal waters, were, together, 
the causes why, at the upper end of the Adriatic, we find a 
pretty extensive range of marshes, which, covered by the 
flood-tide, are partly left bare by the ebb. Art took pos- 
session of the highest spots, and thus arose Venice, formed 
out of a groupe of a hundred isles, and surrounded by 
hundreds more. Moreover, at an incredible expense of 
money and laboui', deep canals have been dug through the 
marshes, in order that at the time of high water, ships of war 
might pass to the chief points. "What human industry and 
wit contrived and executed of old, skill and industry must 
now keep up. The Lido, a long narrow strip of land, sepa- 
rates the lagunes from the sea, which can enter only at two 
points — at the castle and at the opposite end near Chiozza. 
The tide flows in usually twice a-day, and with the ebb 
again carries out the waters twice, and always by the same 
channel and in the same direction. The flood covers the 
lower parts of the morass, but leaves the higher, if not dry, 
yet visible. 

The case would be quite altered were the sea to make new 
ways for itself, to attack the tongue of land and flow in and 
out wherever it chose. Not to mention that the little villages 



318 BETTERS TROM. IXA-i^^. 

on the Lido, Pelestrina, viz., S. Peter's and others would be 
overwhehned, the canals of communication would be choked 
up, and while the water involved all in ruin, the Lido would 
be changed into an island, and the islands which now lie 
behind it be converted into necks and tongues of land. To 
guard against this it was necessary to protect the Lido as far 
ti^ possible, lest the furious element should capriciously attack 
and overthrow what man had already taken possession of, and 
with a certain end and purpose given shape and use to. 

In extraordinary cases when the sea rises above measure, it is 
especially necessary to prevent it entering at more than two 
points. Accordingly the rest of the sluice-gates being shut, 
with all its violence it is unable to enter, and in a few hours 
submits to the law of the ebb, and its fury lessens. 

Otherwise Venice has nothing to fear; the extreme slow- 
ness with which the sea-line retires, assures to her thousands 
of years yet, and by prudently deepening the canals from time 
to time, they will easily maintain their possessions against the 
inroads of the water. 

I could only wish that they kept their streets a little 
cleaner :-— a duty which is as necessary as it is easy of per- 
formance, and which in fact becomes of great consequence in 
the course of centuries. Even now in the principal thorough- 
fares it is forbidden to throw anything into the canals: the 
sweepings even of the streets may not be cast into them. No 
measures, however, are taken to prevent the rain, which here 
falls in sudden and violent torrents, from carrying off the dirt 
which is collected in piles at the corner of every street, and 
washing it into the lagunes — ^nay, what is still worse, into the 
gutters for carrying off the water, which consequently are often 
so completely stopped up, that the principal squares are in 
danger of being nnder water. Even in the smaller piazza of 
S. Mark's, I have seen the gullies which are well laid down 
there, as well as in the greater square, choked up and full of 
water. 

When a rainy day comes, the filth is intolerable; every 
one is cursing and scolding. In ascending and descending 
the bridges one soils one's mantle and great coat {Tabarro), 
which is here worn all the year long, and as one goes along 
in shoes and silk stockings, one gets splashed, and then scolds, 
for it is not common mud, but mud that adheres and 



VEurcs. 317 

stains that one is here splashed with. The weather soon 
becomes fine again, and then no one thinks of cleaning the 
streets. How true is the saying: the public is ever complain- 
ing that is iU served, and never knows how to set about 
getting better served. Here if the sovereign-people wished 
it, it might be done forthwith. 



Venice, Oct. 9, 1786. 

Yesterday evening I ascended the tower of S. Mark's: as 
I had lately seen from its top the lagunes in their glory at 
flood time, I wished also to see them at low water ; for in 
order to have a correct idea of the place, it is necessary to 
take in both views. It looks rather strange to see land all 
around one, where a little before the eye fell upon a mirror of 
waters. The islands are no longer islands — ^merely higher and 
house- crowned spots in one large morass of a gray-greenish 
colom\ and intersected by beautiful canals. The marshy parts 
are overgrown with aquatic plants, a circumstance which must 
tend in time to raise their level, although the ebb and flow are 
continually shaking and tossing them and leave no rest to 
the vegetation. 

I now turn with my narrative once more to the sea. — I there 
saw yesterday the haunts of the sea-snails, the limpets, and 
the crab, and was highly dehghted with the sight. What 
a precious glorious object is a living thing! — ^how wonder- 
fully adapted to its state of existence, how true, how real 
(^seyend). What great advantages do I not derive now from, 
my former studies of nature, and how delighted am I with the 
opportunity of continuing them! But as the present is a 
matter that admits of being communicated to my friends, I 
will not seek to excite their sympathy merely by exclamations. 

The stone-works which have been built against the inroads 
of the sea consist first of all of several steep steps; then 
comes a slightly inclined plane, then again they rise a step, 
which is once more succeeded by a gently ascending surface, 
and last of all comes a perpendicular wall with an overhanging 
coping- — over these steps — over these planes the raging sea 
rises until in extraordinary cases it even dashes over the high- 
est wall with its projecting head. 

The sea is followed by its inhabitants ; — little periwinkles 



318 LETTERS PROM ITALY. 

good to eat, monovalve limpets, and M^hatever else has the 
power of motion, especially by the pungar-crabs. But 
scarcely have these little creatm^es taken possession of the 
smooth walls, ere the sea retires again, swelling and crest- 
ing as it came. At first the crowd knows not where they are, 
and keep hoping that the briny flood will soon return to them 
— ^but it still keeps away; the sun comes out and quickly 
dries them up, and now begins the retreat. It is on these 
occasions that the pungars seek their prey. Nothing more 
wonderful or comical can be seen than the manoeuvres of 
these little creatures, with their round bodies and two long claws 
(for the other spider-feet are scarcely worth noticing). On 
these stilted fore-legs, as it were, they stride along watching 
the limpets, and as soon as one moves itself under its shell on 
the rock, a pungar comes up and inserting the point of his 
claw in the tiny interstice between the shell and the rock 
turns it over, and so manages to swallow the oyster. The 
limpets, on the other hand, proceed cautiously on their way, 
and by suction fasten themselves firmly to the rocky surface 
as soon as they are aware of the proximity of their foe. In 
such cases the pungar deports himself amusingly enough; 
round and round the pulpy animal who keeps himself safe 
beneath his roof wiU. he go with singular politeness ; but not 
succeeding with all his coaxing and being unable to overcome 
its powerful muscle, he leaves in despair this intended victim, 
and hastens after another who may be wandering less cau- 
tiously on his way. 

I never saw a crab succeed in his designs, although I have 
watched for hours the retreat of the little troop as they 
crawled down the two planes and the intermediate steps. 



Venice, Oct. 10, 1786. 
At last I am able to say that I have seen a comedy; Yes- 
tLi'day at the theatre of St. Luke, was performed " LeBaruffe- 
Chiozotte,'' which I should interpret the Frays and Feuds of 
Chiozza. The " dramatis personce,'"' are principally seafaring 
peo]ile, inhabitants of Chiozza, with their wives, sisters, and 
daughters. The usual noisy demonstrations of such sort of 
people in their good or ill luck — their dealings one with 
another, their vehemence, but goodness of heart, common-place 



VENICE. 319 

remarks and unafiected manners, their naive wit and hiunom- — 
all tHs was excellently imitated. The piece, moreover, is 
Goldoni's, and as I had been only the day before in the place 
itself, and as the tones and manners of the sailors and people 
of the sea-port still echoed in my ears and floated before my 
eyes, it delighted me very much, and although I did not 
understand a single allusion, I was, nevertheless, on the 
whole, able to follow it pretty well. I will now give you the 
plan of the piece : — it opens with the females of Chiozza sit- 
ting, as usual, on the strand before their cabins, spinning, 
mending nets, sewing, or making lace ; a youth passes by and 
notices one of them with a more friendly greeting than the 
rest. Immediately the joking begins — and observes no bounds ; 
becoming tarter and tarter, and growing ill-tempered it soon 
bm^sts out into reproaches; abuse vies with abuse; in the 
midst of all one dame more vehement than the rest, bounces 
out with the truth ; and now an endless din of scolding, rail- 
ing, and screaming ; there is no lack of more decided outrage, 
and at last the peace-officers are compelled to interfere. 

The second act opens with the Court of Justice. In the 
absence of the Podesta (who as a noble could not lawfully be 
brought upon the stage) the Actuarius presides. He orders 
the w^omen to be brought before him one by one. This gives rise 
to an interesting scene. It happens that this official personage 
is himseK enamoured of the first of the combatants who is 
brought before him. Only too happy to have an opportunity 
of speaking ^\i\h her alone, instead of hearing what she has to 
say on the matter in question, he makes her a declaration of 
love. In the midst of it a second woman, who is herself in 
love with the actuary, in a fit of jealousy rushes in, and with 
her the suspicious lover of the first damsel — who is followed 
by all the rest, and now the same demon of confusion riots 
in the court as a little before, had set at loggerheads the 
people of the harbour. In the third act the fun gets more 
and more boisterous, and the whole ends with a hasty and 
poor denouement. The happiest thought, however, of the 
whole piece, is a character who is thus drawn, — an old sailor 
who from the hardships he has been exposed to from his 
childhood, trembles and falters in all his limbs, and even in his 
very organs of speech, is brought on the scene to serve as a 
foil to this restless, screaming, and jabbering crew. Before 



320 



LETTERS FKOJyi ITALY. 



he can utter a Avord, he has to make a long preparation by a 
slow twitching of his lips, and an assistant motion of his 
hands and arms ; at last he blurts out what his thoughts are on 
the matter in dispute. But ns he can only manage to do this 
in very short sentences, he acquires thereby a sort of laconic 
gravity, so that all he utters sounds like an adage or maxim ; 
and in this way a happy contrast is afforded to the wild and 
passionate exclamations of the other personages. 

But even as it was, I never witnessed anytning like the 
noisy delight the people evinced at seeing themselves and 
their mates represented with such truth of nature. It was 
one continued laugh and tumultuous shout of exultation from 
beginning to end. I must, however, confess that the piece was 
extremely well acted by the players. According to the cast 
of their several parts, they had adopted among them the dif- 
ferent tones of voice which usually prevail among the inhabit- 
ants of the place. The first actress was the universal favorite, 
more so even than she had recently been in an heroic dress 
and a scene of passion. The female players generally, but 
especially this one, in the most pleasing manner possible 
imitated the twang, the manners, and other peculiarities of 
the people they represented. Great praise is due to the 
author, Avho out of nothing has here created the most amusing 
divertissement. However, he never could have done it with any 
other people than his own merry and lighthearted countrymen. 
The farce is written throughout with a practised hand. 

Of Sacchi's company, for whom Gozzi wrote (but which 
by-the-by is now broken up), I saw Smeraldino,, a short 
plump figure, full of life, tact, and good humour. With her 
I saw Brighella — a slight well-made man and an excellent 
actor, especially in pantomime. These masks which we 
scarcely know except in the form of mummings, and which to 
our minds possess neither life nor meaning, succeed here only 
too well as the creation of the national taste. Here the most 
distinguished characters, persons of every age and condition, 
think nothing of dressing themselves out in the strangest 
costumes, and as for the greater part of the year they are 
accustomed to wander about in masks, they feel no surprise 
at seeing the black visors on the stage also. 



VENICE. S9.1 

Venice, October 11, 1786. 
Since solitude, in the midst of a great crowd of liuman 
beings, is after all not possible, I have taken up with an old 
Frenchman, who knows nothing of Italian, and suspects that 
he is cheated on all hands and taken advantage of, and who, 
with plenty of letters of recommendation, nevertheless, does 
not make his way with the good people here. A man of 
rank, and li^dng in good style, but one whose mind cannot go 
beyond himself and his own immediate circle — ^he is perhaps 
full fifty, and has at home a boy seven years old, of whom he 
is always anxious to get news. He is travelling through 
Italy for pleasure, but rapidly — in order to be able to say 
that he has seen it, but is willing to learn whatever is pos- 
sible as he hurries along. I have shewn him some civilities, 
and have given him information about many matters. While 
I was speaking to him about Venice, he asked me how long 
I had been here, and when he heard that this was my first 
visit, and that I had only been here fourteen days, he replied : 
'-''11 parait que vous n' avez pas perdu voire temps.'' This is the 
first "testimonium"' of my good behaviour that I can furnish 
you. This is the eighth day since he arrived here, and he 
leaves us to-morrow. It was highly delicious to me, to meet 
in a strange land with such a regular Versailles' -man. He is 
now about to quit me ! It caused me some surprise to think 
that any one could ever travel in this temper without a thought 
for anything beyond himself, and yet he is in his way a 
polished, sensible, and well conducted person. 

Venice, Got 12, 1786. 
Yesterday at S. Luke's a new piece was acted: — L^Ligli- 
cismo in Italia (the English in Italy). As there are many 
Englishmen living in Italy, it is not unnatural that their ways 
and habits should excite notice, and I expected to learn from 
this piece what the Italians thought of their rich and welcome 
visitors. But it was a total failure. There were, of course, 
(as is always the case here,) some clever scenes between buf- 
foons, but the rest was cast altogether in too grave and heavy 
a mould, and yet not* a trace of the English good sense: 
plenty of the ordinary Italian commonplaces of morality, and 
those, too, upon the very commonest of topics. 
Vol. II. Y 



322 lETTERS PK,031 ITALY. 

And it did not take : indeed, it was on the very point of 
being hissed off the stage. The actors felt themselves out of 
their element— not on the strand of Chiozza. As this was 
the last piece that I saw here, my enthusiasm for these 
national representations did not seem likely to be increased by 
this piece of folly. 

As I have at last gone through my journal and entered 
gome occasional remarks from my tablets, my proceedings 
are now enrolled and left to the sentence of my friends. There 
is, I am conscious, very much in these leaves which I might 
qualify, enlarge upon, and improve. Let, however, what 
is written, stand as the memorial of first impressions, which, 
if not always correct, will nevertheless be ever dear and 
precious to me. Oh that I could but transmit to my friends 
a breath merely of this light existence! Verily to the 
Italian, "ultramontane" is a very vague idea; and to me 
even — "beyond the Alps," rises very obscurely before my mind, 
although from out of their mists friendly forms are beckoning 
to me. It is the climate only that seduces me to prefer awhile 
these lands to those ; for birth and. habit forge strong fetters. 
Here, however, I could not live, nor indeed in any place where 
I had nothing to occupy my mind; but at present novelty fur- 
nishes me here with endless occupation. Architecture rises, 
like an ancient spirit from the tombs, and bids me study its laws 
just as people do the rules of a dead language, not in order to 
practise or to take a living joy in them, but only in order to 
enable myself in the quiet depths of my own mind to do honor to 
her existence in bygone ages, and her for ever departed glory. 
As Palladio everywhere refers one to Vitruvius, I have bought 
an edition of the latter by Galiani; but this folio suffers in 
my portmanteau as much as my brain does in the study of it. 
Palladio by his words and works, by his method and way, 
both of thinking and of executing, has brought Vitruvius 
home to me and interpreted him far better than the Italian 
translator ever can. Vitruvius himself is no easy reading; 
his book is obscurely written, and requires a critical study. 
Notwithstanding I have read it through cursorily, and it has 
left on my mind many a glorious impression. To express my 
meaning better : I read it like a breviary: more out of devo- 
tion, than for instruction. Abeady the days begin to dra\v 
in and allow more time for reading and writing. 



VENICE. S25 

God be praised ! whatever from my youth up appeared to 
me of worth, is beginning once more to be dear to Me. How 
happy do I feel that I can again venture _ to approach the 
ancient authors. For now, I may dare tell it — and confess at 
once my disease and my folly. For many a long year I could 
not bear to look at a Latin author, or to cast my Bye upon any- 
thing that might serve to awaken in my mind the thoughts 
of Italy. If by accident I did so, I suffered the most horrible 
tortures of mind. It was a frequent joke of Herder's at 
my expense, that I had learned aU my Latin from Spinoza, 
for he had noticed that this was the only Latin work I ever 
read; but he was not aware how carefully I was obliged to 
keep myself from the ancients — ^how even these abstruse 
generalities were but cursorily read by me, and even then not 
without pain. At last matters came to that pitch that even 
the perusal of Wieland's translation of the Satires made me 
utterly wretched ; scarcely had I read two of them, before I 
was compelled to lay the book aside. 

Had I not made the resolve, which I am now carrying into 
effect, I should have been altogether lost — ^to such a degree 
of intensity had the desire grown to see these objects with 
my own eyes. Historical acquaintance with them did me no 
good; — the things stood only a hand's-breadth away from 
me ; but stiH they were separated from me by an impene- 
trable wall. And, in fact, at the present moment, I somehow 
feel as if this were not the first time that I had seen these 
things, but as if I were paying a second visit to them. Al- 
though I have been but a short time in Venice, I have 
adapted myself pretty well to the ways of the place, and feel 
confident that I shall carry away with me, though a verj- 
incomplete, yet, nevertheless, clear and true idea of it. 



Venice, Oct. 14, 1786. 
2 o'clock, morning. 
In the last moments of my stay here : for I am to start 
almost immediately with the packet-boat for Ferrara. I quit 
Venice without reluctance; for to stay here longer with any 
satisfaction and profit to myself, I must take other steps 
which would carry me beyond my present plan. Besides 
everybody is now leaving this city and making for the beau. 

Y 2 



324 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

tiful gardens and seats on the Terra-Firma ; I, however, go 
away well-loaded, and shall carry along with me its rich, rare, 
and unique image. 



FROM FERRARA TO ROME. 

Oct 16, 1786. 
Early and on hoard the packet. 
My travelling companions, male and female alike, are all 
still fast asleep in their berths. For my part I have passed 
the two nights on deck, ^vrapped up in my cloak. It was 
only towards morning that I felt it at all cold.. I am now 
actually in latitude forty-five, and yet go on repeating my 
old song : I would gladly leave all to the inhabitants of the 
land, if only, after the fashion of Dido, I could enclose enough 
of the heavens to surround our dwellings with. It would 
then be quite another state of existence. The voyage in this 
glorious weather has been most delightful, the views and 
prospects simple but agreeable. The Po, with its fertilizing 
stream, flows here through wide plains ; nothing, however, is 
to be seen but its banks covered with trees or bushes ; — ^you 
catch no distant view. On this river, as on the Adige, are 
silly water- works, which are as rude and ill-constructed as 
those on the Saal. 



Ferrara, Oct. 16, 1786. 
At night. 
Although I only arrived here early this morning (by 7 
o'clock, German time), I am thinking of setting off again to- 
morrow morning- For the first time since I left home, a 
feeling of dissatisfaction has fallen upon me in this great and 
beautiful, but flat and depopulated city. These streets, now 
so desolate, were, however, once kept in animation by a bril- 
liant court. Here dwelt Ariosto discontented, and Tasso 
unhappy, and so, we fancy, we gain edification by visiting 
such scenes. Ariosto's monument contains much marble — 
in arranged; for Tasso's prison, they shew you a wood-house 
or coalhouse where, most assuredly, he never v/as kept. 
Moreover, the people pretend to know scarcely anything you 



FERRAKA. — CENTO. 325 

may ask aboiit. Bat at last for "sometHng to drink" they 
manage to remember. All this brings to my mind Luther's 
ink-spots, which the housekeeper freshens up from time to 
time. Most travellers, however, are little better than our 
''' Handwerlishurschen''' or stolling journeymen, and content 
themselves with such palpable signs. ' For my part I became 
quite sulky, and took little interest even in a beautiful insti- 
tute and academy, which a cardinal, a native of Ferrara, 
founded' and endowed; however, some ancient monuments, 
in the Ducal Palace, served to revive me a little ; and I was 
put in perfect good humor by a beautiful conception of a 
painter, John the Baptist before Herod and Herodias. The 
prophet, in his well-known dress of the wilderness, is pointing 
indignantly at Herodias. Quite unmoved, she looks at the 
prince, who is sitting by her side, while the latter regards the 
prophet with a calm but cunning look ; a white middle-sized 
greyhound stands before the king, while from beneath the 
robe of Herodias, a small Italian one is peeping — both 
giving tongue at the prophet. To my mind, this is a most 
happy thought. 



Cento, Oct. 17, 1786. 

In a better temper than yesterday, I write you to-day from 
Guercino's native city. It, however, is quite a different place: 
an hospitable well-built little town, of nearly 5000 inhabitants, 
flourishing, full of life, cleanly, and situated in a well cul- 
tivated plain, which stretches farther than the eye can reach. 
According to my usual custom, I ascended the tower. A sea 
of poplars, between which, and near at hand, one caught 
glimpses of little country-houses, each surrounded by its 
fields. A rich soil and a beautiful climate. It was an 
autumn evening, such as we seldom have to thanlv even sum- 
mer for. The sky, which had been veiled all day, has cleared 
up, the clouds rolling off north and south towards the moun- 
tains, and I hope for a bright day to-morrow. 

Here I first saw the Apennines, which I am approaching. 
The winter in this region lasts only through December and 
January: April is rainy — for the rest of the year beautiful 
weather, according to the nature of the season. Incessant 
rain is unknown. September here, to tell you the truth, was 



826 LETTERS PROM ITALY. 

finer and warmer than August with you.^ The Apennmes in 
the south have received a warm greeting from me, for I 
have now had enough of the plain. To-morrow I shall be 
writing at the foot of them. 

Guercino loved his native town : indeed, the Italians almost 
vmiversally cherish and maintain this sort of local patriotism, 
and it is to this beautiful feeling that Italy owes so many of 
its valuable institutions and its multitude of local sanctuaries. 
Under the management of this master, an academy of paint- 
ing was formed here. He left behind him many paintings, 
which his townsmen are still very proud of, and which, 
indeed, fully justify their pride. 

Guercino is here a sacred name, and that, too, in the 
mouths of children as well as of the old. 

Most charmed was I with his picture, representing the 
risen Lord, appearing to his mother. Kneeling before Him, 
she looks upon Him with indescribable affection. Her left 
hand is touching His body just under the acciu^sed wound 
which mars the whole picture. His hand lies upon her neck; 
aud in order the better to gaze upon her, his body is slightly 
bent back. This gives to His figure a somewhat strange, not 
to say forced appearance. And yet for all that it is infinitely 
beautiful. The calm and sad look, with which He contem- 
j)lates her, is unique and seems to convey the impression that 
before His noble soid there still floats a remembrance of His 
own sufferings and of hers, which the resurrection had not at 
once dispelled. 

Strange has engraved the picture. I wish that my friends 
could see even his copy of it, 

After it a Madonna won my admiration. The child wants 
the breast ; she modestly shrinks fi:om exposing her bosom. 
Natural, noble, exquisite, and beautiful. 

Further, a Mary, who is guiding the arm of the infant 
Christ, standing before her with His face towards the people, 
in order that with uplifted fingers He may bestow His bles- 
sings upon them. Judged by the spirit of the Roman Catho- 
lic legends, this must be pronounced a very happy idea. It 
has been often repeated. 

Guercino is an intrinsically bold, mascuhne, sensible pain- 
ter, without roughness. On the contrary, his pieces possess 
a certain tender moral grace, a reposeful freedom and grant- 



EOLOGNA. 327 

deur, but with all that, a certain mannerism, so that when the 
eye once has grown accustomed to it, it is impossible to mis- 
take a piece of his hand. The lightness, cleanness, and finish 
of his touch are perfectly astoni'shing. For his draperies he 
is particularly fond of a beautiful brownish-red blend of 
colours. These harmonize very well with the blue which he 
loves to combine with, them. 

The subjects of the other paintings are more or less un- 
happily chosen. The good artist has strained all his powers, 
but his invention and execution alike are thrown away and 
wasted. However, I derived both entertainment and profit 
from the view of this cycle of art, although such a hasty and 
rapid glance as I could alone bestow upon them, affords but 
little, either of gratification or instruction. 



Bologna, Oct. 18, 1786. 
Night. 

Yesterday I started very early — before daybreak — ^from 
Cento, and arrived here in pretty good time. A brisk and 
well-educated cicerone having learned that I did not intend to 
make a long stay here, hurried me through all the streets, 
and into so many palaces and churches that I had scarcely 
time to set down in my note-book the names of them, and I 
hardly know if hereafter, when I shall look again at these 
scrawls, I shall be able to call to mmd all the particulars. I 
will now mention, however, a couple or so of objects which 
stand out bright and clear enough as they afforded me a real 
gratification at the time. 

Fii'st of all the Cecilia of Kaphael! It was exactly what I 
had been told of it ; but now I savf it with my own eyes. He 
has invariably accomphshed that which others wished in vain 
to accompHsh, and I would at present say no more of it than 
that it is by him. Five saints, side by side, not one of them has 
anything in common withws; however their existence, stands 
so perfectly real that one would wish for the picture to last 
through eternity, even though for himself he could be content 
to be annihilated. But in order to imderstand Kaphael aright, 
and to form a just appreciation of him, and not to praise him 
as a god or as Melchisedec " without descent" or pedigree, it 
is necessary to study his masters and his predecessors. These, 



328 I.ETTEIIS FROM ITALY. 

too, had a standing on the firm soil of truth ; diligently, not to 
say anxiously, they had laid the foundation, and vied with 
each other in raising, step by step, the pyramid aloft, until, 
at last, profiting by all their labors, and enlightened by a 
heavenly genius, Kaphael set the last stone on the summit, 
above which, or even at which, no one else can ever stand. 

Our interest in the historj?- of art becomes peculialy lively 
when we consider the works of the old masters. Francesco 
Francia is a very respectable artist. Pietro Perugino, so bold 
a man that one might almost call him a noble German feUow. 
Oh that fate had carried Albert Diirer further into Italy. In 
Munich I saw a couple of pieces by him of incredible gran- 
dem\ The poor man, how did he mistake his own worth in 
Venice, and make an agreement with the priests, on ivliichhe 
lost weeks and months ! See him in his journey ihrough the 
Netherlands exchanging his noble works of art for parrots, 
and in order to save his " douceur," drawing the portraits of 
the domestics, who bring him — a plate of fruit. To me the 
history of such a poor fool of an artist is infinitely touching. 

Towards evening I got out of this ancient, venerable, and 
learned city, and extricated myself from its croAvds, who, pro- 
tected from the sun and weather by the arched bowers which 
are to be seen in almost every street, w^alli about, gape about, 
or buy, and sell, and transact whatever business they may 
have. I ascended the tower and enjoyed the pure air. The 
view is glorious! To the north we see the hills of Padua; 
beyond them the Swiss, Tyrolese, and Friulian Alps; in short, 
the whole northern chain, which, at the time, was enveloped 
in mist. Westward there stretched a boundless horizon, 
above which the towers of Modena alone stood out. Towards 
the east a similar plain reaching to the shores of the Adriatic, 
whose waters might be discerned in the setting sun. Towards 
the south, the first hills of the Apennines, which, like the 
Vicentine Hills, are planted up to their summits, or covered 
with churches, palaces, and summer-houses. The sky w^as 
perfectly clear, not a cloud to be seen, only on the horizon a 
kind of haze. The keeper of the tower assured me that for 
six years this mist had never left the distance. Otherwdse, 
by the help of a telescope, you might easily discern the hills 
of Vicenza, with their houses and chapels, but now very 
rarely, even on the brightest days. And this mist lay chiefly 



EOLOG-NA. 359 

on the Northern Chain, and makes our beloved Fatherland a 
regular Cimmeria. In proof of the salubrity of the situation 
and pure atmosphere of the city, he called my notice to the fact, 
thai; the roofs of the houses looked quite fresh, and that not a 
single tile was attacked by damp or moss. It must be confessed 
that the tiles look quite clean, and beautiful enough, but the 
good quality of the brick-earth may have something to do 
with tliis ; at least we know that, in ancient times, excellent 
tiles were made in these parts. 

The leaning tower has a frightful look, and yet it is most 
probable that it was built so by design. The following seems 
to me the explanation of this absurdity. In the disturbed 
times of the city every large edifice was a fortress, and every 
powerful family had its tower. By and bye the possession 
of such a building became a mark of splendour and distinc- 
tion, and as, at last, a perpendicular tower was a common and 
every-day thing, an oblique one was built. Both architect 
and owner have obtained their object; the multitude of slen- 
der, upright towers are just looked at, and all hurry to see the 
leaning one. Afterwards I ascended it. The bricks are all 
arranged horizontally. With clamps and good cement one 
may build any mad whim. 



Bologna, Oct. 19, 1786. 

I have spent this day to the best advantage I could in visit- 
ing and revisiting ; but it is with art as with the world : the 
more we study it the larger we find it. In this heaven new 
stars are constantly appearing which I cannot count, and 
w-hich sadly puzzle me ; the Carracci, a Guido, a Dominichino, 
who shone forth in a later and happier period of art, but truly 
to enjoy whom requires both knowledge and judgment which 
I do not possess, and which cannot be acquired in a hm-ry. 
A great obstacle to our taking a pure delight in their pictures, 
and to an immediate understanding of their merits, is the 
absurd subjects of most of them. To admire or to be charmed 
with them one must be a madman. 

It is as though the sons of God had wedded with the daughters 
of men, and out of such an union many a monster had sprung 
into existence. No sooner are you attracted by the gusto of 
a Guido and his pencil, 'nj which nothing but the most exce,\- 



330 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

lent objects the eye sees are worthy to be painted, but you, at 
once, withdraw your eyes from a subject so abominably 
stupid that the world has no term of contempt sufficient to 
express its meanness; and so it is throughout. It is ever 
anatomy — an execution — a flaying scene — always some suffer- 
ing, never an action of the hero — never an interest in the 
scene before you — always something for the fancy — some 
excitement accruing from without. Nothing but deeds of 
horror or convulsive sufferings, malefactors or fanatics, along- 
side of whom the artist, in order to save his art, invariably slips 
in a naked boy or a pretty damsel as a spectator, in every case 
treating his spiritual heroes as little better than lay-figures 
{gliedermanner), on which to hang some beautiful mantle 
with its folds. In all there is nothing that suggests a human 
notion! Scarcely one subject in ten that ever ought to have 
been painted, and that one the painter has chosen to view 
from any but the right point of view. 

Guido's great picture in the Church of the Mendicants is 
all that painting can do, but, at the same time, all that 
absurdity could task an artist with. It is a votive piece. I 
can well believe that the whole consistory praised it, and also 
devised it. The two angels, who were fit to console a Psyche 
in her misery, must here .... 

The S. Proclus is a beautiful figure, but the others — 
bishops and popes! Below are heavenly children playing 
with attributes. The painter, who had no choice left him, 
laboured to help himself as best he could. He exerted himself 
merely to show that he was not the barbarian. Two naked 
figures by Guido ; a St. John in the Wilderness ; a Sebastian, 
how exquisitely painted, and what do they say? the one is 
gaping and the other wriggling. 

AVere I to contemplate history in my present ill humor, I 
should say, Faith revived art, but Superstition immediately 
made itself master of it, and ground it to the dust. 

After dinner, seeming somewhat of a milder temper and 
less arrogantly disposed than in the morning, I entered the fol- 
lowing remarks in my note-book. In the palace of the Tanari 
there is a famous picture by Guido, the Virgin suckling the 
infant Saviour — of a size rather larger than life — the head as 
if a god had painted it, — indescribable is the expression with 
which she gazes upon the sucking infant. To me it seems a 



BOLOGNA. 331 

calm, profound resignation, as if she were nourishing not the 
child of her joy and love, but a supposititious, heavenly 
changeling ; and goes on suckling it because now she cannot 
do otherwise, although, in deep humility, she wonders how 
she ever came to do it. The rest of the canvass is fiUed up 
with a mass of drapery which connoisseurs highly prize. 
For my part I know not what to make of it. The colours, too, 
are somewhat dim; the room and the day were none of the 
brightest. 

Notwithstanding the confusion in which I find myself I yet 
feel that experience, knowledge, and taste, already come to my 
aid in these mazes. Thus I was greatly won by a " Cir- 
cumcision" by Guercino, for I have begun to know and to 
understand the man. I can now pardon the intolerable sub- 
ject and delight in the masterly execution. Let him paint 
whatever can be thought of, everything wdU be praiseworthy 
and as highly finished as if it were enamel. 

And thus it happened with me as with Balaam the over- 
ruled prophet, who blessed where he thought to curse ; and I 
fear this would be the case stiU oftener were I to stay here 
much longer. 

And then, again, if one happens to meet with a picture after 
Ptaphael, or what may with at least some probability be 
ascribed to him, one is soon perfectly cured and in good tem- 
per again. I fell in yesterday with a S. Agatha, a rare 
picture, though not throughout in good keeping. The artist 
has given to her the mien of a young maiden fuU of health 
and self-possession, but yet without rusticity or coldness. I 
have stamped on my mind both her form and look, and shall 
mentally read before her my " Iphigenia," and shall not allow 
my heroine to express a sentiment which, the saint herself 
might not give utterance to. 

And now when I think again of this sweet bm-den which I 
carry with me throughout my wanderings, I cannot conceal 
the fact that, besides the great objects of nature and art, 
which I have yet to work my way thi'ough, a wonderful train- 
of poetical images keeps rising before me and unsettling me<. 
From Cento to this place I. have been wishing to continue my 
labors on the Iphigenia, but what has happened ? inspiration 
has brought before my mind the plan of an " Iphigenia at 
Delphi," and I must work it out. I wiU here set down ths 
argument as briefly a^ possible. 



332 LETTERS FROM ITALY, 

Electra, confidently hoping that Orestes will bring to Delphi 
the image of the Taurian Diana, makes her appearance in the 
Temple of Apollo, and as a final sin-ofiering dedicates to the 
god, the axe which has perpetrated so many horrors in the 
house of Pelops. Unhappily she is, at this moment, joined 
by a Greek, who recounts to her how, having accompanied 
Pyiades and Orestes to Tauris, he there saw the two friends 
led to execution, but had himself luckily made his escape. 
At this news the passionate Electra is unable to restrain her- 
self, and knows not whether to vent her rage against the gods 
or against men. 

In the mean time Iphigenia, Orestes, and Pyiades have 
arrived at Delphi. The heavenly calmness of Iphigenia con- 
trasts remarkably with the earthly vehemence of Electra, as 
the two sisters meet without knowing each other. The fugi- 
tive Greek gains sight of Iphigenia, and recognizing in her the 
priestess, who was to have sacrificed the two friend-s, makes 
it knoTVTi to Electra. The latter snatching the axe from the 
altar, is on the point of killing Iphigenia, when a happy 
incident averts this last fearful calamity from the two sisters. 
This situation, if only I can succeed in working it out well, 
will probably furnish a scene unequalled for grandeur or 
pathos by any that has yet been produced on the stage. But 
where is man to get time and hands for such a work, even if 
the spirit be willing. 

As I feel myself at present somewhat oppressed with such 
a flood of thoughts of the good and desirable, I cannot help 
reminding my friends of a dream which I had about a year 
ago, and which appeared to me to be highly significant. I 
dreamt forsooth, that I had been sailing about in a little boat 
and had landed on a fertile and richly cultivated island, of 
which I had a consciousness that it bred the most beautiful 
pheasants in the world. I bargained, I thought, with the 
people of the island for some of these birds, and they killed 
and brought them to me in great numbers. They were phea- 
sants indeed, but as in dreams all things are generally changed 
and modified, they seemed to have long, richly coloured tails, 
like the loveliest birds of Paradise, and with eyes like those 
of the peacock. Bringing them to me by scores, they 
arranged them in the boat so skilfully with the heads inwards, 
the long variegated feathers of the tail hanging outwards, as 



B0L,O(JNA, 333 

f 

to form in the bright sunshine the most glorious pile conceivable, 
and so large as scarcely to leave room enough in the bow and 
the stern for the rower and the steersman. As with this load 
the boat made its way through the tranquil waters, I named 
to myself the friends among whom I should like to distribute 
those variegated treasures. At last, arriving in a spacious 
harbour, I was almost lost among great and many masted 
vessels, as I mounted deck after deck in order to discover a 
place where I might safely run my little boat ashore. 

Such dreamy visions have a charm, inasmuch as springing 
from our mental state, they possess more or less of analogy 
with the rest of our lives and fortunes. 



But now I have also been to the famed scientific building, 
called the Institution or "Gli Studj." The edifice is large, 
and the inner court especially has a very imposing appearance, 
although not of the best style of architecture. In the stair- 
cases and corridors there was no want of stuccoes and fres- 
coes : they are all appropriate and suitable, and the numerous 
objects of beauty, which, well worth seeing, are here collected 
together, justly command our admiration. For all that, 
however, a German, accustomed to a more liberal course of 
study than is here pursued, will not be altogether content 
with it. 

Here again a former thought occurred to m.e, and I could 
not but reflect on the pertinacity which in spite of time, which 
changes all things, man shows in adhering to the old shapes 
of his public buildings, even long after they have been applied 
to new purposes. Our churches still retain the form of the Basi- 
lica, although probably the plan of the temple would better suit 
our worship. In Italy the courts of justice are as spacious 
and lofty as the means of a community are able to make 
them. One can almost fancy oneself to be in the open air, 
where once justice used to be administered. And do we not 
build our great theatres with their offices under a roof exactly 
similar to those of the first theatrical booths of a fair, which 
were hurriedly put togetlier of planks ? The vast multitude 
of those in whom, about the time of the Beformation, a thirst 
for knowledge was awakened, obliged the scholars at our 
universities to take shelter as they could in the burghers 



834 LETTERS FROit ITALY. 

houses, and it was very long before any colleges for pupils 
{Waisenhduser), were built,, thereby facilitating for the poor 
youths the acquirement of the necessary education for the 
world. 

I have spent the whole of this bright and beautiful day 
under the open heaven: scarcely do I ever come near a moun- 
tain, but my interest in rocks and stones again revives. I 
feel as did Antaeus of old, who found himself endued with 
new strength, as often as he was brought into fresh contact 
with his mother earth. I rode towards Palermo, where is 
found the so-called Bolognese sulphate of Barytes, out of 
which are made the little cakes which, being calcined, shine 
in the dark, if previously they have been exposed to the light, 
and which the people here call shortly and expressively 
"fosfori." 

On the road, after leaving behind me a hiUy track of argil- 
laceous sandstone, I came upon whole rocks of selenite, quite 
visible on the surface. Near a brickkiln a cascade precipi- 
tates its waters, into which many smaller ones also empty 
themselves. At first sight the traveller might suppose he saw 
before him a loamy hill, which had been worn away by the 
rain ; on a closer examination I discovered its true nature to 
be as follows : — ^the solid rock of which this part of the line 
of hills consists is schistous, bituminous clay of very fine 
strata, and alternating with gypsum. The schistous stone is 
so intimately blended with pyrites that, exposed to the air 
and moisture, it wholly changes its nature. It swells, the 
strata gradually disappear, and there is formed a kind of pot- 
ter's clay, crumbling, shelly, and glittering on the surface like 
stone-coal. It is only by examining large pieces of both (I 
myself broke several, and observed the forms of both), that it 
is possible to convince oneself of the transition and change. 
At the same time we observed the shelly strata studded 
with white points, and occasionally also variegated with 
yellow particles. In this way, by degrees, the whole surface 
crumbles away, and the hill looks like a mass of weather- 
worn pyrites on a large scale. Among the lamina some are 
harder, of a green and red color. Pyrites I very often found 
disseminated in the rock. 

I now passed along the channels which the last violent 



BOLOGNA.~IiEGANO. S35 

fillies of rain had worn in the crumbling rock, and to my 
great dehght foimd many specimens of the desired barytes, 
mostly of an imperfect egg-shape, peeping out in several 
places of the fi-iable stone, some tolerably pm-e, and some 
slightly mingled with the clay in which they were imbedded. 
That they have not been carried hither by external agency 
any one may convince himself at the first glance; whether 
they were contemporaneous with the schistous clay, or whe- 
ther they first arose fi'om the swelling and dissolving of the 
latter, is matter calling for further inquiry. Of the specimens 
I foimd, the larger and smaller approximated to an imperfect 
ogg-shape ; the smallest might be said to verge upon irregular 
crystalHne forms. The heaviest of the pieces I brought 
away weighed seventeen loth (8|- oz.) Loose in the same clay, 
I also found perfect crystals of gypsum. Mineralogists will 
be able to point out further peciiliarities in the specimens I 
bring with me. And I was noAv again loaded with stones ! 
I have packed up at least half a quarter of a hundred- weight. 



Oct. 20, 1786, in the night. 
How much should I have still to say, were I to attempt to 
confess to you all that in this beautiful day has passed through 
my mind. But my mshes are more powerful than my 
thoughts. I feel myself hurried irresistibly forward; it is only 
with an efibrt that I can collect myself sufficiently to attend to 
what is before me. And it seems as if heaven heard my secret 
prayer. Word has just been brought me that there is a 
vettm-ino going straight to Rome, and so the day after to- 
morrow I shall set out direct for that city ; I must, therefore, 
to-day and to-morrow, look after my afiairs, make all my 
little arrangements, and despatch my many commissions. 



Legano on the Apennines, 
Oct. 21, 1786. 
Whether I have to-day left Bologna, or whether I have 
been diiven out of it, I cannot say. Enough that I eagerly 
availed myself of an earlier opportunity of quitting it. And 
so here I am at a wretched inn, in company with an officer of 
file Pope's army, who is going to Perugia, where he was born. 



336 LKlTEES FKOM ITALY. 

In order to say something as I seated myself by liis side in 
the two-wheeled carriage, I paid him the compliment of 
remarking, that as a German accustomed to associate with, 
soldiers, I found it very agreeable to have to travel with an 
officer of the Pope. "Pray do not," he replied, "be offended 
at what I am about to answer — ^it is all very well for you to be 
fond of the military profession, for, in Germany, as I have 
heard, everything is military; but with regard to myself, 
although our service is light enough, so that in Bologna, 
where I am in garrison, I can do just as I like, still I heartily 
wish I were rid of this jacket, and had the disposal of my 
father's little property. But I am a younger son and so 
must be content." 



. Oct. 22, 1786. Evening. 

Here, at Ciredo, which also is a little paltry place on the 
Apennines, I feel myself quite happy, knowing that I am. 
advancing towards the gratification of my dearest wishes. 
'l^o-day we were joined by a riding party — a gentleman and a 
lady — an Englishman and a soi-disant sister. Their horses 
are beautiful, but they ride unattended by any servants, and 
the gentleman, as it appears, acts the part both of groom and 
valet de chambre. Everywhere they find something to com- 
plain of — to listen to them is like reading a few pages out of 
Archenholz's book. 

To me the Apennines are a most remarkable portion of the 
world. The great plains of the basin of the Po are followed 
by a hilly tract which rises out of the bottom, in order, after 
running between the two seas, to form the southern extremity 
of the Continent. If the hiUs had been not quite so steep 
and high above the level of the sea, and had not their direc- 
tions crossed and recrossed each other as they do, the ebb and 
flow of the tides in primeval times might have exercised 
a greater and wider influence on them, and might have 
washed over and formed extensive plains, in which case this 
would have been one of the most beautiful regions of this 
glorious clime — somewhat higher than the rest of it. As it 
is, however, it is a strong net of mountain ridges, interlacing 
each other in aU directions — one often is puzzled to know 
■^hither the waters will find their vent. If the valleys were 



FLORENCE. PEHUGIA. do7 

better filled up, and tlie bottoms flatter and more irrigated, 
the land might be compared to Bohemia, only that the moun- 
tains have in every respect a difierent character. However, 
it must not for one moment be thought of as a mountainous 
waste, but as a highly cultivated though hilly district. The 
chestnut grows very fine here; the wheat excellent, and that 
of this year's sowing, is already of a beautiful green. Along 
the roads are planted ever-green oaks with their small leaves, 
but around the churches and chapels the slim cypress. 



Perugia, October, 25, 1786. Evening. 

For two evenings I have not written. The inns on the 
road were so wretchedly bad that it was quite useless to think 
of bringing out a sheet of paper. Moreover, I begin to be a 
little puzzled to find anything, for since quitting Venice the 
travelling bag has got more and more into confusion. 

Early in the morning (at 23 o'clock, or about 10 of our 
reckoning) we left the region of the Apennines and saw Flo- 
rence in an extensive valley, which is highly cultivated and 
sprinkled over with villas and houses without end. 

I ran rapidly over the city, the cathedral, the baptistery. 
Here again a perfectly new and unknown world opened upon 
me, on which, however, I will not further dwell. The gar- 
dens of the Botoli are most delightfully situated. I hastened 
out of them as fast as I had entered them. 

In the city we see the proof of the prosperity of the gene- 
rations who built it ; the conviction is at once forced upon us 
that they must have enjoyed a long succession of vnse rulers. 
But above all one is struck with the beauty and grandeur 
which distinguish all the public works, and roads, and bridges 
in Tuscany. Everything here is at once substantial and clean ; 
use and profit not less than elegance are alike kept in view, 
everywhere we discern traces of the care which is taken to 
' preserve them. The cities of the Papal States on the contrary 
only seem to stand, because the earth is unwdlling to svfallow 
them up. 

The sort of country that I lately remarked, the region of the 
Apennines, might have been, is what Tuscany really is. As it 
lies so much lower the ancient sea was able to do its duty 
properly, and has thrown up here deep beds of excellent marl, 

Vol. n. z 



838 LETTERS FKOM ITALY. 

It is a liglit yellow hue and easily worked. They plough 
deep, retaining, however, most exactly the ancient man- 
ner. Their ploughs have no wheels, and the share is not 
moveable. Bowed down behind his oxen the peasant pushes 
It down into the earth, and turns up the soil. They 
plough over a field as many as five times, and use but little 
dung, which they scatter with the hands. After this they 
sow the corn. Then they plough together two of the smaller 
ridges into one, and so form deep trenches of such a nature 
that the rain-water easily runs off the lands into them. When 
the corn is grown up on the ridges, they can also pass along 
these trenches in order to weed it. This way of tilling is a 
very sensible one, wherever there is a fear of over-moisture ; 
but why it is practised on these rich, open plains I cannot 
understand. This remark I just made at Arezzo, where a 
glorious plain expands itself. It is impossible to find cleaner 
fields anywhere, not even a lump of earth is to be seen ; all is 
as fine as if it had been sifted. Wheat thrives here most 
luxuriantly, and the soil seems to possess all the qualities 
required by its nature. Every second year beans are planted 
for the horses, who in this country get no oats. Lupins are 
also much cultivated, which at this season are beautifully 
green, being ripe in March. The flax, too, is up ; it stands 
the winter, and is rendered more durable by frost. 

The olive-trees are strange plants. They look very much 
like willows ; like them also they lose the heart of the wood 
and the bark splits. But still they have a greater appearance 
of durability ; and one sees from the wood, of which the grain 
is extremely fine, that it is a slow grower. The foliage, too, 
resembles that of the willow, only the leaves on the branches 
are thinner. All the hills around Florence are covered with 
olive-trees and vines, between which grain is sown, so that 
every spot of ground may be made profitable. Near Aiezzo 
and farther on, the fields are left more free. I observed that 
they take little care to eradicate the ivy which is so injurious 
to the olive and the vine, although it would be so easy to 
destroy it. There is not a meadow to be seen. It is said 
\hat the Indian corn exhausts the soil; since it has been 
introduced, agriculture has sufiered in its other crops. I 
can well believe it with their scanty manuring. 

Yesterday I took leave of my Captain, with a promise 
of visiting him at Bologna on my return. He is a true 



A PAPAL SOLDIEH'S IDEAS OF PKOTESTANTS. 339 

representative of the majority of his countrymen. Here, 
however, I would record a pecuharity which personally dis- 
tinguished him. As I often sat quiet and lost in thought he 
once exclaimed " Che pensa'? non deve mai pensar Vuomo^ 
pensando s invecchia r which being interpreted is as much as to 
say, " What are you thinking about ; a man ought never to 
think; thinking makes one old." And now for another 
apophthegm of his; '■'' Non deve fermarsi I'uojno in una sola 
cosa, 'perche allora divien matto ; hisogna aver mille cose, una 
confusione nella testa;''' in plain English, "A man ought not 
to rivet his thoughts exclusively on any one thing, otherwise 
he is sure to go mad; he ought to have in his head a 
thousand things, a regular medley." 

Certainly the good man could not know that the very thing 
that made me so thoughtful was my having my head mazed 
by a regular confusion of things, old and new. The following 
anecdote will serve to elucidate still more clearly the mental 
character of an Italian of this class. Having soon discovered 
that I was a Protestant, he observed, after some circumlocu- 
tion, that he hoped I would allow him to ask me a few ques- 
tions, for he had heard such strange things about us Protest- 
ants that he wished to know for a certainty what to think of us. 
" May you," he said, "live with a pretty giid without being mar- 
ried to her? do your priests allow you to do that? To this I 
replied, that om* priests are prudent folk who take no notice 
of such trifles. No doubt if we were to consult them upon 
such a matter they would not permit it." "Are you not 
then obhged to ask them ?" He exclaimed ; " Happy fellows ! 
as they do not confess you, they do not of course find it out." 
Hereupon he gave vent, in many reproaches to his discontent 
^vith his own priests, uttering at the same time loud praises of 
our liberty. " But," he continued, " as regards confession ; how 
stands it with you ? We are told that all men, even if they are 
not Chi'istians, must confess ; but that inasmuch as many, from 
'their obduracy, are debarred from the right way, they never 
theless make confession to an old tree ; which indeed is 
impious and ridiculous enough, but yet serves to show that, 
at least, they recognize the necessity of confession." Upon 
tliis I explained to him our Lutheran notions of confession, 
and om' practice concerning it. All this appeared to him very 
easy ; for he expressed an opinion that it was almost the same 



340 liETTEKS PEOM ITALY. 

as confessing to a tree. After a brief hesitation, he begged of 
me very gravely to inform him corrfectly on another point. 
He had, forsooth, heard from the month of his own confessor, 
(who, he said, was a truthful man,) that we Protestants are at 
Hberty to marry om- own sisters, which assuredly is a " chose 
un pen forte." As I denied this fact, and attempted to give 
him a more favourable opinion of our doctrine, he made no 
special remark on the latter, which evidently appeared to him 
a very ordinary and every- day sort of a thing; but turned 
aside my remarks by a new question. "We have been 
assured," he observed, "that Frederick the Great, who has 
won so many victories, even over the faithful, and filled the 
world with his glory — that he whom every one takes to be a 
heretic is really a Catholic, and has received a dispensation 
from the Pope to keep the fact secret. For while, as is well 
known, he never enters any of your churches, he diligently 
attends the true worship in a subterranean chapel, though with 
a broken heart, because he dare not openly avow the holy 
religion, since were he to do so, his Prussians, who are a 
brutish people and furious heretics, would no doubt murder him 
on the instant ; — and to risk that would do no good to the cause. 
On these grounds the Holy Father has given him permission to 
worship in secret, in return for which he quietly does as much 
as possible to propagate and to favour the true and only saving 
faith." I allowed all this to pass, merely observing, as it 
was so great a secret no one could be a witness to its truth. 
The rest of our conversation was nearly of the same cast, so 
that I could not but admire the wise priests who sought to 
parry, and to distort whatever was likely to enlighten or vary 
the dark outline of their traditional dogmas. 

I left Perugia on a glorious morning, and felt the happi- 
11 ess of being once more alone. The site of the city is beau- 
tiful, and the view of the lake in the highest degree refreshing. 
These scenes are deeply impressed on my memory. At first 
the road went downwards, then it entered a cheerfiil valley, 
enclosed on both sides by distant hills, till at last Assisi lay 
before us. 

Here, as I had learned from Palladio and Volckmann, a 
noble temple of Minerva, built in the time of Augustus, was still 
standing in perfect repair. At Madonna del Angela, therefore, 
I quitted my vetturino, leaving him to proceed by himself to 



ASSISI. TEMPIiE OF MINERVA. 341 

Foligno, and set off in the face of a strong mnd for Assisi, for 
I longed for a foot journey through a country so solitary for me. 
I left on my left the vast mass of churches, piled Babel- wise 
one over another, in one of which rest the remains of the holy S. 
Francis of Assisi, — with aversion, for I thought to myself, that 
the people who assembled in them were mostly of the same 
stamp with my captain and travelling companion. Having 
asked of a good-looking youth the way to the della Minerva, 
he accompanied me to the top of the town, for it lies on the 
side of a hill. At last we reached what is properly the old 
town, and behold before my eyes stood the noble edifice, the 
first complete memorial of antiquity that I had ever seen. A 
modest temple, as befitting so small a town, and yet so perfect, 
so well conceived, that anywhere it would be an ornament. 
Moreover, in these matters, how grand were th^ ancients in 
the choice of their sites. The temple stands about half way 
up the mountain, where two hills meet on the level place, 
which is to this day called the Piazza. This itself slightly 
rises, and is intersected by the meeting of four roads, which 
make a somewhat dilated S. Andrew's Cross. In all proba- 
bility the houses which are now opposite the temple, and block 
up the view from it, did not stand there in ancient times. If 
they were removed, we should have a south prospect over a 
rich and fertile country, and at the same time the temple of 
!Minerva would be visible from all sides. The line of the 
roads is, in all probability, very ancient since they foUow 
the shape and inclination of the hill, The temple does not 
stand in the centre of the flat, but its site is so arranged that 
the traveller approaching from Rome, catches a fine fore- 
shortened view of it. To give an idea of it, it is necessary 
to draw not only the building itself but also its happily- 
chosen site. 

Looking at the fagade, I could not sufficiently admire the 
genius-like identity of design which the architects have here, 
as elsewhere, maintained. The order is Corinthian, the inter- 
columnar spaces being somewhat above two modules. The 
bases of the columns and the plinths seem to rest on pedes- 
tale, but it is only an appearance. The socle is cut through 
in five places, and at each of these, five steps ascend between 
the columns, and bring you to a level, on which properly 
the columns rest, and from which also you enter the temple. 
The bold idea of cutting through the socle was happily 



342 LETTERS -FEOM ITALY, 

^azai'ded; for, as the temple is situated on a hill, the flight 
of steps must otherwise have been f^arried up to such a 
height as would have inconveniently narrowed the area of the 
temple. As it is, however, it is impossible to determine how 
many steps there originally were ; for, with the exception of 
a very few, they are all choked up with dirt or paved over. 
Most reluctantly did I tear myself from the sight, and deter- 
mined to call the attention of architects to this noble edifice, 
in order that an accurate draught of it may be furnished. 
For what a sorry thing tradition is, I here again find occasion 
to remark. Palladio, whom I trust in every matter, gives 
indeed a sketch of this temple, but certainly he never can 
have seen it himself, for he gives it real pedestals above the 
area, by which means the columns appear disproportionately 
high, and the result is a sort of unsightly Palinyrene mon- 
strosity, whereas, in fact, its look is so full of repose and 
beauty as to satisfy both the eye and the mind. The impression 
which the sight of this edifice left upon me is not to be expressed, 
and will bring forth imperishable fruits. It was a beautiful 
evening, and I now turned to descend the mountain. As I 
was proceeding along the Roman road, calm and composed, 
suddenly I heard behind me some rough voices in dispute ; I 
fancied that it was only the Sbirri, whom I had previously 
noticed in the town. I, therefore, went on without care, but 
still with my ears listening to what they might be saying 
behind me. I soon became aware that I was the object of 
their remarks. Four men of this body (two of whom were 
armed with guns,) passed me in the rudest way possible, 
muttering to each other, and turning back, after a few 
steps, suddenly surrounded me. They demanded my name, 
and what I was doing there. I said that I was a stranger, 
and had travelled on foot to Assisi, while my vetturino had 
gone on to Foligno. It appeared to them very improbable, 
that any one should pay for a carriage and yet travel by foot. 
They asked me if I had been visiting the " Gran Convento." 
I answered " no;" but assured them that I knew the build- 
ing of old, but being an architect, my chief object this time 
was simply to gain a sight of the Maria della Minerva, which 
they must be aware was an architectural model. This they 
could not contradict, but seemed to take it very ill that I had 
not paid a visit to the Saint, and avowed their suspicion that 



ASSISI — AN ADVENTUKK. 343 

my business in fact was to smuggle contraband goods. I 
pointed out to them how ridiculous it was that a man whci 
walked openly through the streets alone, and without packs 
and with empty pockets, should be taken for a contrabandist. 
However, upon this I offered to return to the town with 
them, and to go before the Podesta, and by showing my papers 
prove to him that I was an honest traveller. Upon this they 
muttered together for a while, and then expressed their opinion 
that it was unnecessary, and, as I behaved tliroughout with 
coolness and gravity, they at last left me, and turned towards 
the town. I looked after them. As these rude churls moved 
on in the foreground, behind them the beautiful temple of 
Minerva once more caught my eye, to soothe and console me 
with its sight. I turned then to the left to look at the heavy 
cathedi-al of S. Francisco, and was about to continue my way, 
when one of the unarmed Sbirri, separating himself from the 
rest, came up to me in a quiet and friendly manner. Saluting 
me, he said, Signior Stranger, you ought at least to give me 
something to drink your health, for I assure you, that from the 
very first I took you to be an honourable man, and loudly 
maintained this opinion in opposition to my comrades. They, 
however, are hot-headed and over-hasty fellows, and have 
no knowledge of the world. You yourself must have observed, 
that I was the first to allow the force of, and to assent to, 
your remarks. I praised him on this score, and urged him to 
protect all honourable strangers, who might henceforward come 
to Assisi for the sake either of religion or of art, and especially 
all architects, who might wish to do honom^ to the town, by 
measuring, and sketching the temple of Minerva, since a 
correct drawing or engraving of it had never yet been taken. 
If he were to accompany them, they would, I assured him, 
give him substantial proofs of their gratitude, and with these 
words I poured some silver into his hand, which, as exceed- 
ing his expectation, delighted him above measure. He beg- 
ged me to pay a second visit to the town, remarking that I 
ought not on any account to miss the festival of the Saint, 
on which I might with the greatest safety delight and amuse 
myself. In- deed if, being a good-looking fellow, I should wish 
to be introduced to the fair sex, he assured me that the 
prettiest and most respectable ladies would willingly receive 
me or any stranger, upon his recommendation. He took his 



344 lETTEHS FBOM ITALY. 

leave, promising to remember me at vespers before the tomb 
of the Saint, and to offer up a prayer for my safety throughout 
my travels. Upon this we parted, and most delighted was I 
to be again alone with nature and myself. The road to Foligno 
was one of the most beautiful and agreeable walks that I ever 
took. For four full hours I walked along the side of a 
mountain, having on my left a richly cultivated valley. 

It is but sorry travelling with a vetturino, it is always best to 
follow at one's ease on foot. In this way had I travelled from 
Ferrara to this place. As regards the arts and mechanical in- 
vention, on which however the ease and comforts of life mainly 
depend, Italy, so highly favoured by nature, is very far 
behind all other countries. The carriage of the vetturino, 
which is still called sedia, or seat, certainly took its origin 
from the ancient litters drawn by mules, in which females 
and aged persons, or the highest dignitaries, used to be car- 
ried about. Instead of the hinder mule, on whose yoke the 
shafts used to rest, two wheels have been placed beneath the 
carriage, and no further improvement has been thought of, 
In this way one is still jolted along, just as they were centuries 
ago ; it is the same with their houses and everything else. 

If one wisnes to see realised the poetic idea of men in pri- 
meval times, spending most of their lives beneath the open 
heaven, and only occasionally, when compelled by necessity, 
retiring for shelter into the caves, one must visit the houses 
hereabouts, especially those in the rural districts, which are 
quite in the style and fashion of caves. Such an incredible 
absence of care do the Italians evince, in order not to grow 
old by thinking. With unheard of frivolity, they neglect to 
niake any preparation for the long nights of winter, and in 
consequence, for a considerable portion of the year, suffer 
like dogs. Here, in Foligno, in the midst of a perfectly 
Homeric household, the whole family being gathered together 
in a large hall, round a fire on the hearth, with plenty of run- 
ning backwards and forwards and of scolding and shouting, 
while supper is going on at a long table like that in tlie picture 
of the Wedding Feast at Cana, I seize an opportunity of writ- 
ing this, as one of the family has ordered an inkstand to be 
brought me, — a luxury which, judging from other circum- 
stances, I did not look for. These pages, however, tell too plainly 
of the cold and <if the inconvenience of my writing table. 



'rEii:M. 345 

In fact I am now made only too sensible of the rashness of 
travelling in this country without a servant, and without pro- 
viding oneself well with every necessary. What with the 
ever-changing currency, the vetturijii, the extortion, the 
wretched inns, one who, like myself, is travelling alone, 
for the first time in this comitry, hoping to find uninter- 
rupted pleasm-e, will be sure to find himself miserably 
disappointed every day. However, I vfished to see the 
country at any cost, and even if I must be dragged to 
Rome on Ixion's wheel, I shall not complain. 



Terni, Oct, 27, 1786. 
Evening. 

Again sitting in a " cave," which only a year before suf- 
fered from an earthquake. The little town lies in the midst 
of a rich country, (for taking a circuit roimd the city 
I explored it with pleasure,) at the beginning of a beautiful 
plain which lies between two ridges of lime-stone hills. 
Terni, like Bologna, is situated at the foot of the mountain 
range. 

Almost ever since the papal officer left me I have had a 
priest for my companion. The latter appears better contented 
with his profession than the soldier, and is ready to enlighten 
me, whom he very soon saw to be an heretic, by answering 
any question I might put to him concerning the ritual and 
other matters of his church. By thus mixing continually 
mth new characters I thoroughly obtain my object. It is 
absolutely necessary to hear the people talking together, if 
you would form a true and lively image of the whole country. 
The Italians are in the strangest manner possible rivals and 
adversaries of each other; everyone is strongly enthusiastic 
in the praise of his own town and state ; they cannot bear 
with one another, and even in the same city the different 
ranks nourish perpetual feuds, and all this with a profoundly 
vivacious and most obvious passionateness, so that while they 
expose one another's pretensions, they keep up an amusing 
comedy all day long ; and yet they come to an under- 
standing again together, and seem quite aware how impos- 
sible it is for a stranger to enter into their ways and thought^:. 

I ascended to Spoleto and went along the aqueduct, which 
serves also for a bridge from one mountain to another. The ten 



346 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

brick arches which span the valley, have quietly stood there 
through centuries, and the water still flows into Spoleto, and 
reaches its remotest quarters. This is the third great work of 
the ancients that I have seen, and still the same grandeur of 
conception. A second nature made to work for social objects, 
— such was their architecture ; and so arose the amphitheatre, 
the temple, and the aqueduct. Now at last I can understand 
the justice of my hatred for all arbitrary caprices, as, for 
instance, the winter casts on white stone — a nothing about 
nothing— a monstrous piece of confectionary ornament— and 
so also with a thousand other things. But all that is now 
dead ; for whatever does not possess a true intrinsic vitality 
cannot live long, and can neither be nor ever become great. 

What entertainment and instruction have I not had cause 
to be thankful for during these eight last weeks, but in fact 
it has also cost me some trouble. I kept my eyes continually 
open, and strove to stamp deep on my mind the images of all 
I saw; that was all — judge of them I could not, even if it 
had been in my power. 

jSan Crocejisso, a singular chapel on the road side, did not 
look, to my mind, like the remains of a temple which had 
once stood on the same site ; it was evident that columns, 
pillars, and pediments had been found, and incongruously 
put together, not stupidly but madly. It does not admit of 
description; however, there is somewhere or other an en- 
graving of it. 

And so it may seem strange to some that we should go on 
troubling ourselves to acquire an idea of antiquity, although 
we have nothing before us but ruins, out of which we must 
first painfully reconstruct the very thing we wish to form an 
idea of. 

With what is called " classical ground'^ the case stands 
rather different. Here, if only we do not go to work fanci- 
fully, but take the ground really as it is, then we shall have 
the decisive arena which moulded more or less the greatest of 
events. Accordingly I have hitherto actively employed my 
geological and agricultural eye to the suppressing of fancy 
and sensibility, in order to gain for myself an unbiassed and 
distinct notion of the locality. By such means history fixes 
itself on our minds with a marvellous vividness, and the effect 
is utterly inconceivable by another* It is something of this 



ROAD-SIDE FANTASIES. 347 

sort that makes me feel so very great a desire to read Tacitus 
in Rome. 

I must not, however, forget the weather. As I descended 
the Apennines from Bologna the clouds gradually retired 
towards the north, afterwards they changed their com-se and 
moved towards Lake Trasimene. Here they continued to 
hang, though perhaps they may have moved a little farther 
southward. Instead, therefore, of the great plain of the Po, 
sending as it does, dming the summer, all its clouds to the 
Tyrolese mountains, it now sends a part of them towards the 
Apennines,' — ^from thence perhaps comes the rainy season. 

They are now beginning to gather the olives. It is done 
here with the hand, in other places they are beat down with 
sticks. If winter comes on before all are gathered, the rest 
are allowed to remain on the trees till spring. Yesterday I 
noticed, in a very strong soil, the largest and oldest trees 
I have ever yet seen. 

The favour of the Muses, like that of the dsemons, is not 
always shown us in a suitable moment. Yesterday I felt 
inspired to undertake a work which at present would be iU- 
timed. Approaching nearer and nearer to the centre of 
Romanism, suiTounded by Roman Catholics, boxed up with a 
priest in a sedan, and striving anxiously to observe and to 
study without prejudice true nature and noble art, I have 
arrived at a vivid conviction that all traces of original 
Christianity are extinct here. Indeed, v»^hile I tried to 
bring it before my mind in its purity, as we see it recorded 
in the Acts of the Apostles, I could not help shuddering 
to think of the shapeless, not to say grotesque, mass of 
Heathenism which heavily overlies its benign beginnings. 
Accordingly the "Wandering Jew" again occurred to me 
as having been a witness of all this wonderful develop- 
ment and envelopment, and as having lived to experience so 
strange a state of things, thnt Christ himself, when He shall 
come a second time to gather in His harvest, will be in 
danger of being crucified a second time. The Legend, 
" Venio iterum cruci/igi''' was to serve me as the material of 
tliis catastrophe. 

Dreams of this kind floated before me ; for out of impa- 
tience to get onwards, I used to sleep in my clothes ; and I 
kno\7 of nothing more beautiful than to wake before davm, 



o48 LETTERS EKOM ITALY. 

and between sleeping and waking, to seat oneself in one's 
car, and travel on to meet the day. 

Citta Castellana, October 2%, 1786. 

I will not fail you this last evening. It is not yet eight 
o'clock, and all are already in bed; so I can for a good "last 
time" think over what is gone by, and revel in the anticipa- 
tion of what is so shortly to come. This has been through- 
out a bright and glorious day ; the morning very cold, the 
day clear and warm, the evening somewhat windy, but very 
beautiful. 

It was very late when we set off from Terni, and we 
reached Narni before day, and so I did not see the bridge. 
Valleys and lowlands ; — ^now near, now distant prospects ;— a 
rich country, but all of limestone, and not a trace of any 
other formation. 

Otricoli lies on an alluvial gravel-hill, thrown up by one of 
the ancient inundations ; it is built of lava brought from the 
other side of the river. 

As soon as one is over the bridge one finds oneself in a 
volcanic region, either of real lava, or of the native rock, 
changed by the heat and by fusion. You ascend a moun- 
tain, which you might set down at once for gray lava. It 
contains many white crystals of the shape of garnets. The 
causeway from the heights to the Citta CasteUajia is likewise 
composed of this stone, now worn extremely smooth. The 
city is built on a bed of volcanic tufa, in which I thought I 
could discover ashes, pumice-stone, and pieces of lava. The 
view from the castle is extremely beautiful. Soracte stands 
out and alone in the prospect most picturesquely. It is pro- 
bably a limestone mountain of the same formation as the 
Apennines. The volcanic region is far lower than the Apen- 
nines, and it is only the streams tearing through it, that have 
formed out of it hills and rocks, which, with their over- 
hanging ledges, and other marked features of the landscape, 
furnish most glorious objects for the painter. 

To-morrow evening and I shall be in Rome. Even yet I 
can scarcely believe it possible ; and if this wish is fulfilled, 
what shall I wish for afterwards ? I know not, except it be 
that I may safely stand in my little pheasant-loaded canoe, 
and may find all my friends well, happy, and unchanged. 



E03.IS]. 



Ro7ne, November 1, 1186. 

At last I can speak out, and greet my friends with good 
linmour. May they pardon my secrecy, and what has been, 
as it were, a subterranean journey hither. For scarcely to 
myself did I venture to say whither I was hurrjdng — even on 
the road I often had my fears, and it was only as I passed 
under the Porta del Popolo that I felt certain of reaching 
Rome. 

And now let me also say that a thousand times — aye, at 
all times, do I think of you, in the neighbourhood of these 
objects which I never believed I should visit alone. It was only 
when I saw every one bound body and soul to the north, 
and all longing for those countries utterly extinct among 
them; that I resolved to undertake the long solitary 
journey, and to seek that centre towards which I was 
attracted by an irresistible impulse. Indeed for the few last 
years it had become with me a kind of disease, which could 
only be cured by the sight and presence of the absent object. 
Now, at length I may venture to confess the truth : it reached 
at last such a height, that I dm-st not look at a Latin book, or 
even an engraving of Italian scenery. The craving to see this 
country was over ripe. Now, it is satisfied; friends and 
country have once more become right dear to me, and the 
return to them is a wished for object — nay, the more 
ardently desired, the more firmly I feel convinced that I 
bring with me too many treasures for personal enjoyment 
or private use, but such as through life may serve others, 
as well as myself, for edification and guidance. 



Rome, November 1, 1786. 
WeU, at last I am arrived in this great capital of the 
world. If fifteen years ago I could have seen it in good 



350 LETTERS .FHOM ITALY, 

company, with a well informed guide, I shonld liave thouglit 
myself very fortunate. But as it was to be that I should thus 
see it alone, and with my own eyes, it is well that this joy 
has fallen to my lot so late in life. 

Over the mountains of the Tyrol I have as good as flown. 
Verona, Vicenza, Padua, and Venice I have carefully 
looked at; hastily glanced at Ferrara, Cento, Bologna, 
and scarcely seen Florence at all. My anxiety to reach 
Rome was so great, and it so grew with me every moment, 
that to think of stopping anywhere vf as quite out of the 
question; even in Florence, I only stayed three hours. 
Now 1 am here at my ease, and as it would seem, shall 
be tranquillized for my whole life; for we may almost say 
that a new life begins when a man once sees with his own 
eyes all that before he has but partially heard or read of. 
All the dreams of my youth I now behold reahzed before 
me ; the subjects of the first engravings I ever remember 
seeing (several views of Eome were hung up in an ante- 
room of my father's house) stand bodily iDefore my sight, 
and all that I had long been acquainted with through paint- 
ings or drawings, engravings, or wood-cuts, plaister- casts, 
and cork models are here collectively presented to my 
eye. "Wherever I go I find some old acquaintance in this new 
world ; it is all just as I had thought it, and yet all is new ; 
and just the same might I remark of my own observations 
and my own ideas. I have not gained any new thoughts, 
but the older ones have become so defined, so vivid, and so 
coherent, that they may almost pass for new ones. 

When Pygmalion's EHsa, which he had shaped entirely in 
accordance with his wishes, and had given to it as much of 
truth and nature as an artist can, moved at last towards him, 
and said, " I am!" — ^how different was the living form from 
the chiselled stone. 

In a moral sense, too, how salutary is it for me to live 
awhile among a wholly sensual people, of v/hom so much has 
been said and written, and of whom every stranger judges 
according to the standard he brings with him. I can excuse 
every one who blames and reproaches them ; they stand too 
far apart from us, and for a stranger to associate with them is 
difficult and expensive. 



ROME FESTIVAL OF ALL SOiri.S. 351 

Rome, November 3, 1 786. 

One of the chief motives which I had for hurrying to Rome 
was the Festival of All Saints ; for I thought within myself, 
if Rome pays so much honour to a single saint, Vv^hat vfill she 
not show to them aU? But I was under a mistake. The 
Roman Church has never been very fond of celebrating with 
remarkable pomp any common festival; and so she leaves 
every order to celebrate in silence the especial memory of its 
own patron, — for the name Festival, and the day especially set 
apart to each saint is properly the occasion when each receives 
his highest commemoration. 

Yesterday, however, which was the Festival of All Souls, 
things went better with me. This commemoration is kept 
by the Pope in his private chapel on the Quirinal. I has- 
tened with Tischbein to the Monte Cavallo. The piazza 
before the palace has something altogether singular — so irre- 
gular is it, and yet so grand and so beautiful ! I now cast 
eyes upon the Colossuses ! neither eye nor mind was large 
enough to take them in. Ascending a broad flight of steps, 
we followed the crov/d through a splendid and spacious hall. 
In this ante-chamber, dii'ectly opposite to the chapel, and in 
sight of the numerous apartments, one feels somewhat 
strange to find oneself beneath the same roof with the Vicar 
of Christ. 

The office had begim ; Pope and Cardinals were already in 
the church. The holy father, of a highly handsome and 
dignified form, the cardinals of difierent ages and figures; 
I was seized with a strange longing desire that the head of 
the Church might open his golden mouth, and speaking with 
raptm-e of the ineffable bliss of the happy soul, set us all too in 
a raptm'e. But as I only saw him moving backwards and for- 
wards before the altar, and tiu'ning himself now to this side 
and now to that, and only muttering to himself, and con- 
ducting himself just like a common parish priest, then the 
original sin of Protestantism revived within me, and the well- 
known and ordinary mass for the dead had no charms for me. 
For most assuredly Christ Flimself — He who in his youthful 
days, and even as a child excited men's wonder by His oral 
exposition of Scriptui-e, did never thus teach and work in 
silence ; but as we learn from the Gospels, He was ever 
ready to utter His wise and spiritual words. What, I asked 



352 LETTEES FROM. ITALY. 

myself, ■would He say, where He to come in among us, and 
see His image on earth thus mumbling, and sailing backwards 
and forwards? The " Fe?zzo iterum crucijigi'' again crossed 
my mind, and I nudged my companion to come out into the 
freer air of the vaulted and painted hall. 

Here we found a crowd of persons attentively observing 
the rich paintings ; for the Festival of All Souls is also the 
holy day of all the artists in Rome. Not only the chapel, but 
the whole palace also, vv^ith all its rooms, is for many hours 
on this day open and free to every one, no fees being required, 
and the visitors not being liable to be hurried on by the 
chamberlain. 

The paintings on the walls engaged my attention, and I 
now formed a new acquaintance with some excellent artists, 
whose very names had hitherto been almost unknown to me, 
— ^for instance, I now for the first time learned to appreciate 
and to love the cheerful Carlo Maratti. 

But chiefly welcome to me were the masterpieces of the 
artists, of whose style and manner I already had some 
impression. I saw with amazement the wonderful Petronilla 
of Giiercino, which was formerly in St. Peter's, where a mosaic 
copy now stands in the place of the original. The body of 
the Saint is lifted out of the grave, and the same person, just 
reanimated, is being received into the heights of heaven by a 
celestial youth. Whatever may be alleged against this double 
action, the picture is invaluable. 

Still more struck was I with a picture of Titian's : it 
throws into the shade all I have hitherto seen. Whether 
my eye is more practised, or whether it is really the most 
excellent, I cannot determine. An immense mass-robe, stifl- 
with embroidery and gold-embossed figures, envelops the 
dignified frame of a bishop. With a massive pastoral stan 
in his left hand, he is gazing with a look of rapture towards 
heaven , while he holds in his right a book out of which he 
seems to have imbibed the divine enthusiasm with which 
he is inspired. Behind him a beautiful maiden, holding a 
palm branch in her hand, and, full of affectionate sympathy, 
is looking over his shoulder into the open book. A grave old 
man on the right stands quite close to the book, but appears 
to pay no attention to it ; the key in his hand, suggests the 
possibility of his familiar acquaintance with its contents. 



HOME TITIAN GUIDO. 353 

Over against this group a naked, well-made youth, wounded 
with an arrow, and in chains, is looking straight before him 
with a sHght expression of resignation in his countenance. lu 
the intermediate space stand two monks, bearing a cross and 
lilies, and devoutly looking up to heaven. Then in the 
clear upper space is a semi-circular wall, which encloses them 
all ; above moves a Madonna in highest glory, sympathising 
with all that passes below. The young sprightly child on her 
bosom, with a radiant countenance, is holding out a crown, 
and seems indeed on the point of casting it down. On 
both sides angels are floating by, who hold in their hands 
crowns in abundance. High above all the figures, and even 
the triple-rayed aureola, soars the celestial dove, as at once 
the centre and finish of the whole group. 

We said to om-selves, " Some ancient holy legend must have 
fui'nished the subject of this picture, in order that these various 
and ill-assorted personages should have been brought toge- 
ther so artistically and so significantly. We ask not, how- 
ever, why and wherefore, — ^we take it all for granted, and 
only wonder at the inestimable piece of art. Less unin- 
telligible, but still mysterious, is a fresco of Guidd' s in this 
chapel. A virgin, in childish beauty, loveliness, and inno- 
cence, is seated, and quietly sewing : two angels stand by her 
side, waiting to do her service at the slightest bidding. 
Youthful innocence and industry, — the beautiful picture 
seems to tell us, — are guarded and honoured by the heavenly 
beings. No legend is wanting here ; no story needed to fur- 
nish an explanation. 

Now, however, to cool a little my artistic enthusiam, a 
merry incident occurred. I observed that several of the 
German artists, who came up to Tischbein as an old acquaint- 
ance, after staring at me, went their ways again. At last 
one, who had most recently been observing my person, came 
up to me again, and said, "We have had a good joke; the 
report that you were in Kome had spread among us, and the 
attention of us artists was called to the one unknown 
stranger. Now, there was one of our body who used for a 
long time to assert that he had met you — ^nay, he asseverated 
he had lived on very friendly terms with you, — a fact which 
we were not so ready to believe. However, we have just 
called upon him to look at you, and solve our doubts. He 

Vol. n. 2 a 



354 LETTEKS EHOM ITALY. 

at once stoutly denied that it was you, and said that in the 
stranger there was not a trace of your person or mien." So, 
then, at least our incognito is for the moment secui-e, and 
will afford us something hereafter to laugh at. 

I now mixed at my ease with the troop of artists, and 
asked them who were the painters of several pictures whose 
style of art was unknown to me. At last I was particularly 
struck by a picture representing St. George kilHng the 
dragon, and setting free the virgin; no one could tell me 
whose it was. Upon this a little modest man, who up to 
this time had not opened his mouth, came forward and told 
me it was Pordenone's, the Venetian painter; and that it 
was one of the best of his paintings, and displayed all his 
merits, I was now well able to account for my liking for it : 
the picture pleased me, because I possessed some knowledge 
of the Venetian school, and was better able to appreciate the 
excellencies of its best masters. 

The artist, my informant, was Heinrich Meyer, a Swiss, 
who for some years had been studying at Rome with a 
friend of the name of Holla, and who had taken excellent 
drawings in Spain of antique busts, and was well read in the 
history of art. 



Rome, November 7, 1786. 

I have now been here seven days, and by degrees have 
formed in my mind a general idea of the city. We go dili- 
gently backwards and forwards. While I am thus making my- 
self acquainted with the plan of old and new Rome, viewing 
the ruins and the buildings, visiting this and that villa, the 
grandest and most remarkable objects are slowly and lei- 
surely contemplated. I do but keep my eyes open and see, 
and then go and come again, for it is only in Rome one can 
duly prepare oneself for Rome. 

It must, in truth, be confessed, that it is a sad and melan- 
choly business to prick and track out ancient Rome in new 
Rome; however, it must be done, and we may hope at 
least for an incalculable gratification. We meet with traces 
both of majesty and of ruin, which alike surpass all concep- 
tion ; what the barbarians spared, the builders of new Rome 
made havoc of. 



KOME ITS -PRESENT ASPECT. 355 

When one thus beholds an object two thousand years old and 
more, but so manifoldly and thoroughly altered by the changes 
of time, but, sees nevertheless, the same soil, the same moun- 
tains, and often indeed the same walls and columns, one be- 
comes, as it were, a contemporary of the great counsels of 
Fortune, and thus it becomes difficult for the observer to 
trace from the beginning Rome following Rome, and not 
only new Rome succeeding to the old, but also the several 
epochs of both old and new in succession. I endeavour, first 
of all, to grope my way alone thi'ough the obscm-er parts, for 
this is the only plan by which one can hope fully and com- 
pletely to perfect by the excellent introductory works which 
have been written from the fifteenth century to the present 
day. The first artists and scholars have occupied their whole 
lives with these objects. 

And this vastness has a strangely tranquillizing efiect upon 
you in Rome, while you pass from place to place, in order to 
visit the most remarkable objects. In other places one has to 
search for what is important; here one is oppressed, and 
borne down with numberless phenomena. Wherever one 
goes and casts a look around, the eye is at once struck with 
some landscape, — forms of every kind and style ; palaces and 
ruins, gardens and statuary, distant views of villas, cottages 
and stables, triumphal arches and columns, often crowd- 
ing so close together, that they might all be sketched on a 
single sheet of paper. He ought to have a hundred hands to 
write, for what can a single pen do here ; and, besides, by 
the evening one is quite weary and exhausted with the day's 
seeing and admiring. 



Rome, November 7, 1786. 
Pardon me, my Mends, if for the futm-e you find me rather 
chary of my words. On one's travels one usually rakes 
together all that we meet on one's way ; every day brings 
something new, and one then hastens to think upon and to 
judge of it. Here, however, we come into a very great school 
indeed, where every day says so much, that we cannot ven- 
ture to say anything of the day itself. Indeed, people would 
do weU if, tarrying here for years together, they observed 
awhile a Pythagorean silence. 

2 A 2 



356 LETTEBS FHOM ITALY. 

Nov. 1786. 
I am quite well. The weather, as the Romans say, is 
hrufto. The south wind, the scirocco^ is blowing, and brings 
with it every day more or less of rain : for my part, I do not 
find the weather disagreeable ; such as it is, it is warmer than 
the rainy days of summer are with us. 



Rome, Novemher 7, 1786. 

The more I become acquainted with Tischbein's talents, as 
well as his principles and yiews of art, the higher I appre- 
ciate and value them. He has laid before me his drawings 
and sketches ; they have great merit, and are full of high 
promise. His visit to Bodmer led him to fix his thoughts 
on the infancy of the human race, when nian found him- 
self standing on the earth, and had to solve the pro- 
blem, how he must best fulfil his destiny as the Lord of 
Creation. 

As a suggestive introduction to a series of illustrations of 
this subject, he has attempted symbolically to vindicate the 
high antiquity of the world. Mountains overgrown with 
noble forests,— -ravines worn out by watercourses, — burnt out 
volcanoes still faintly smoking. In the foreground the 
mighty stock of a patriarchal oak still remains in the ground, 
on whose half-bared roots a deer is trying the strength of his 
horns, — a conception as fine as it is beautifully executed. 

In another most remarkable piece he has painted man 
yoking the horse, and by his superior skill, if not strength, 
bringing all the other creatures of the earth, the air, and the 
water under his dominion. The composition is of an extra- 
ordinary beauty ; when finished in oils it cannot fail of pro- 
ducing a great effect. A drawing of it must, at any cost, be 
secured for Weimar. When this is finished, he purposes to 
paint an assembly of old men, aged and experienced in coun- 
cil, — in which he intends to introduce the portraits of living 
personages. At present, however, he is sketching away with 
the greatest enthusiasm on a battle-piece. Two bodies of 
cavalry are fighting with equal courage and resolution ; be- 
tween them yawns an awful chasm, which but few horses 
would attempt to clear. The arts of defensive warfare are 
useless here. A wild resolve, a bold attack, a successful leap, or ' 



HOME KAFFAELE. 35T 

else to be hiuied in the abyss below ! This picture will afford 
him an opportunity to display, in a very striking manner, 
the knowledge winch he possesses of horses, and of their 
make and movements. 

Now it is Tischbein's wish to have these sketches, and r.. 
series of others to follow, or to be intercalated between 
them, connected together by a poem, which may serve to 
explain the di-awings, and, by giving them a definite context, 
may lend to them both a body and a charm. 

The idea is beautiful, only the artist and the poet must be 
many years together, in order to carry out and to execute 
such a work. 



Rome, Novemher 7, 1786. 
The " Loggie'^ of Kaffaele, and the great pictures of the 
*' School of Athens," &c., I have now seen for the first and 
only time ; so that for me to judge of them at present is like 
a man having to make out and to judge of Homer fi:om some 
half-obliterated and much-injm-ed manuscript. The gratifica- 
tion of the first impression is incomplete ; it is only when they 
have been carefully studied and examined, one by one, that 
the enjoyment becomes perfect. The best preserved are the 
paintings on the ceilings of the Loggie. They are as fresh as 
if painted yesterday The subjects are symbolical. Very few, 
liowever, are by Raffaele's own hand, but they are excellently 
executed, after his designs and under his eye. 



Rome, Novemher 7, 1786. 
Many a time, in years past, did I entertain the strange 
whim, as ardently to wish that I might one day be taken to 
Italy by some well-educated man, — by some Englishman, 
well learned in art and in history ; and now it has all been 
brought about much better than I could have anticipated. 
Tischbein has long lived here ; he is a sincere friend to me, 
and during his stay liere always cherished the wish of being 
able one day to show Rome to me. Our intimacy is old by 
letter though new by presence. Where could I meet with a 
worthier guide ? And. if my time is limited, I will at least 
learn and enjoy as much as possib e ; and yet, notwithstanding, 
I clearly foresee, that when I leave Rome I shall wish that I 
was coming to it. 



358 LETTEKS EKOM ITALY. 

Rome, November 8, 1786. 
My strange, and perhaps whimsical, incognito proves useM 
to me in many ways that I never should have thought o£. 
As every one thinks himself in duty bound to ignore who I 
am, and consequently never ventm^es to speak to me of my- 
self and my works, they have no alternative left them but 
to speak of themselves, or of the matters in which they are 
most interested, and in this way I become circumstantially 
informed of the occupations of each, and of everything 
remarkable that is either taken in hand or produced. Hofrath 
Reiffenstein good-naturedly humours this whim of mine ; as, 
however, for special reasons, he could not bear the name 
which I had assumed, he immediately made a Baron of me, 
and I am now called the " Baron gegen Rondanini uher"" (the 
Baron who lives opposite to the Palace Rondanini). This 
designation is sufficiently precise, especially as the Italians 
are accustomed to speak of people either by their Christian 
names, or else by some nickiiame, Enough ; I have gained 
my object ; and I escape the dreadful annoyance of having 
to give to everybody an account of myself and my works. 

Rome, November 9, 1786. 
I frequently stand still a moment to survey, as it were, tha 
heights I have already won. With much delight I look back 
to Venice, that grand creation that sprang out of the bosom 
of the sea, like Minerva out of the head of Jupiter. In 
Rome, the Rotunda, both by its exterior and interior, has 
moved me to offer a willing homage to its magnificence. In 
S. Peter's I learned to understand how art, no less than 
nature, annihilates the artificial measures and dimensions of 
man. And in the same way the Apollo Belvidere also has 
again drawn me out of reality. For as even the most correct 
engravings furnish no adequate idea of these buildings, sc the 
case is the same with respect to the marble original of lhi& 
statue, as compared with the plaister models of it, wbich- 
however, I formerly used to look upon as beautiful. 



Rome, November 10, 1786, 
Here I am now living with a calmness and tranquillity to 
which I have for a long while been a stranger. My practice 



EOIVIE — THE GEOTTO OF EGEKIA, &C. 359 

to see and take all things as they are, my fidelity in letting 
the eye be my light, my perfect renmiciation of all preten- 
sion, have again come to my aid, and make me calmly, but 
most intensely, happy. Every day has its fresh remarkable ob- 
ject, — every day its new grand unequalled paintings, and a 
whole which a man may long think of, and dream of, but 
which with all his power of imagination he can never reach. 

Yesterday I was at the Pyramid of Cestius, and in the 
evening on the Palatine, on the top of which are the ruins of 
the palace of the Csesars, which stand there like walls of 
rock. Of all this, however, no idea can be conveyed! In 
truth, there is nothing little here; although, indeed, occa- 
sionally something to find fault with, — something more or less 
absui'd in taste, and yet even this partakes of the universal 
grandeiu' of all around. 

When, however, I retm^n to myself, its every one so 
readily does on all occasions, I discover within a feeling 
which does not infinitely delight me — one, indeed, which I 
may even express. Whoever here looks around with ear- 
nestness, and has eyes to see, must become in a measm*e 
solid — he cannot but apprehend an idea of solidity with a 
vividness which is nowhere else possible. 

The mind becomes, as it were, primed with capacity, with 
an earnestness without severity, and with a definiteness of 
character with joy. With me, at least, it seems as if I had 
never before so rightly estimated the things of the world as I 
do here ; I rejoice when I think of the blessed efiects of all 
this on the whole of my future being. And let me jumble 
together the things as I may, order will somehow come into 
them. I am not here to enjoy myself after my own fashion, 
but to busy myself with the great objects around, to learu, 
and to improve myself, ere I am forty years old. 



Rome, Nov. 11, 1786. 
Yesterday I visited the nymph Egeria, and then the Hippo- 
drome of Caracalla, the ruined tombs along the Via Appia, 
and the tomb of MeteUa, which is the first to give one a true 
idea of what solid masonry really is. These men worked for 
eternity — all causes of decay were calculated, except the 
rage of the spoiler, which nothing can resist. Right heartily 



360 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

did I wish you had been there. The remains of the principal 
aqueduct are highly venerable. How beautiful and grand 
a design, to supply a whole people with water by so vast 
a structure! In the evening we came upon the Coliseum, 
when it was already twilight. When one looks at it, all else 
seems little; the edifice is so vast, that one cannot hold the 
image of it in one's soul— in memory we think it smaller, 
and then retmm to it again to find it every time greater 
than before. 



Frascati, Nov. 15. 

The company are aE. in bed, and I am writing with Indian 
ink which they use for drawing. We have had two beautiful 
days without rain, warm and genial sunshine, so that summer 
is scarcely missed. The country around is very pleasant ; the 
village lies on the side of a hill, or rather of a mountain, and 
at every step the draughtsman comes upon the most glorious 
objects. The prospect is unbounded — Rome lies before you, 
and beyond it, on the right, is the sea, the mountains of 
Tivoli, and so on. In this delightful region country houses 
are built expressly for pleasure, and as the ancient Romans 
had here their villas, so for centuries past their rich and- 
haughty successors have planted country residences on all the 
loveliest spots. For two days we have been wandering about 
here, and almost every step has brought us upon something 
new and attractive. 

And yet it is hard to say whether the evenings have not 
passed still more agreeably than the days. As soon as our 
stately hostess has placed on the round table the bronzed lamp 
with its three vacks, and wished us felicissime notte, we all 
form a circle round it, and the views are produced which have 
been drawn and sketched during the day ; their merits are 
discussed, opinions are taken whether the objects might or 
not have been taken more favourably, whether their true char- 
acters have been caught, and whether all requisitions of a like 
general nature, which may justly be looked for in a first 
sketch, have been fulfilled. 

Hofrath Reiffenstein, by his judgment and authority, con- 
trives to give order to, and to conduct these sittings. But 
the merit of this delightful arrangement is due to PhiUpp 



E,OME— FAHNESE GALLEKY, &0. 361 

Hackert, who lias a most excellent taste botli in drawing and 
finishing views from nature. Artists and dilettanti, men 
and women, old and yoimg — ^he would let no one rest, but 
stimulated every one to make the attempt at any rate according 
to their gifts and powers, and led the way with his own good 
example. The little society thus collected, and held together, 
Hofrath Reiffenstein has, after the departm-e of his friend, 
faithfully kept up, and we all feel a laudable desire to 
awake in every one an active participation. The peeuHar 
turn and character of each member of the society is thus 
sho^vn in a most agreeable way. For instance, Tischbein, as 
an historical painter, looks upon scenery with very different 
eyes from the landscape painter ; he sees significant groups, 
and other graceful speaking objects, where another can see 
nothing, and so he happily contrives to catch up many a 
naive-trait of humanity, — it may be in children, peasants, 
mendicants, or other such beings of natm^e, or even in animals, 
which with a few characteristic touches, he skilfully manages 
to pourtray, and thereby contributes much new and agreeable 
matter for om^ discussions. 

When conversation is exhausted, at Hackert's suggestion, 
perhaps, some one reads aloud Sulzer's Theory ; for although 
from a high point of view it is impossible to rest contented 
with this work, nevertheless, as some one observed, it is so far 
satisfactory as it is calculated to exercise a favourable in- 
fluence on minds less higlily cultivated. 



Rome, Nov. 17, 1786. 

We are back again ! Dming the night we have had an 
awful torrent of rain, with thunder and lightning ; it is still 
raining, but withal very warm. 

As regards myself, however, it is only with few words that 
I can indicate the happiness of this day. I have seen the 
frescoes of DomenicJmio in Andrea clella Valle, and also the 
Farnese Gallery of Caraccio's. Too much, forsooth, for 
months — what, then, for a single day ! 



Rome, Nov. 18, 1786. 
It is again beautiful, weather, a bright genial warm day. 
1 saw in the Farnesine palace the stor^ir of Psyche, coloured 



362 LETTERS TKOM ITALY. 

copies of which have so long adorned my room, and then at 
S. Peter's, in Montorio, the Transfiguration by Rafiaelle — - 
all well known paintings — ^hke friends which one has made 
in the distance by means of letters, and which for the first 
time one sees face to face. To live with them, however, is 
something quite different; every true relation and false 
relation becomes immediately evident. 

Moreover, in every spot and corner glorious things are to 
be met with, of which less has been said, and which have not 
been scattered over the world by engravings and copies. Of 
these I shall bring away with me many a drawing from the 
hands of young but excellent artists. 



Rome, Nov. 18, 1786. 

The fact that I long maintained a correspondence with 
Tischbeiri, and was consequently on the best terms possible 
with him, and that even when I had no hope of ever visiting 
Italy, I had communicated to him my wishes, has made om* 
meeting most profitable and delightful ; he has been always 
thinking of me, even providing for my wants. With the 
varieties of stone, of which all the great edifices, whether old 
or new are built, he has made himself perfectly acquainted ; 
he has thoroughly studied them, and his studies have been 
greatly helped by his artistic eye, and the artist's pleasure in 
sensible things. Just before my arrival here he sent off to 
Weimar a collection of specimens which he had selected for 
me, which will give me a friendly welcome on my return. 

An ecclesiastic who is now residing in France, and had 
it in contemplation to write a work on the ancient mar- 
bles, received through the influence of the Propaganda some 
large pieces of marble from the Island of Pares. When 
they arrived here they were cut up for specimens, and twelve 
different pieces, from the finest to the coarsest grain, were 
reserved for me. Some were of the greatest purity, while 
others are more or less mingled with mica, the former being 
used for statuary, the latter for architecture.- How much 
an accurate knowledge of the material employed in the arts 
must contribute to a right estimate of them, must be obvious 
to every one. 

There are opportunities enough here for my collecting' 



many more specimens. In our way to the ruins of Nero's 
palace, we passed through some artichoke grounds newly 
turned up, and we could not resist the temptation to cram 
our pockets full of the granite, porphyry, and marble slabs 
which lie here by thousands, and serve as unfailing witnesses 
to the ancient splendour of the walls which were once 
covered with them. 



Home, Nov. 18, 1786. 

I must now speak of a wonderful problematical picture, 
which even in the midst of the many gems here, still makes a 
good show of its own. 

For many years there had been residing here a Frenchman 
well known as an admirer of the arts, and a collector ; he 
had got hold of an antique drawing in chalk, no one knows 
how or whence. He had it retouched by Mengs, and kept it 
in his collection as a work of very great value. Winckelmann 
somewhere speaks of it with enthusiasm. The Frenchman died, 
and left the picture to his hostess as an antique. Mengs, too, 
died, and declared on his death-bed that it was not an antique, 
but had been painted by himself. And now the whole world 
is divided in opinion, some maintaining that Mengs had 
one day, in joke, dashed it off with much facility ; others 
asserting that Mengs could never do anything like it — 
indeed, that it is almost too beautiful for Raffaelle. I saw it 
yesterday, and must confess that I do not know anything 
more beautiful than the figure of Ganymede, especially the 
head and shoulders; the rest has been much renovated. 
However, the painting is in ill repute, and no one will relieve 
the poor landlady of her treasure. 



JRome, Nov. 20, 1786. 
As experience fully teaches us that there is a general 
pleasure in having poems, whatever may be their subject, 
illustrated with drawings and engravings — nay, that the 
painter himself usually selects a passage of some poet or 
other for the subject of his most elaborate paintings, Tisch- 
bein's idea is deserving of approbation, that poets and 



364 LETTEKS FKOM ITALY. 

painters should work together from the very first, in order to 
secure a perfect unity. The difficulty would assuredly be 
greatly lessened, if it were applied to little pieces, such as 
that the whole design would easily admit of being taken in at 
once by the mind, and worked out consistently with the 
original plan. 

Tischbein has suggested for such common labours some 
very delightful idyllic thoughts, and it is really singular, 
that those which he wishes to see worked out in this way 
are really such as neither poetry nor painting, alone, could 
ever adequately describe. During oilr walks together he 
has talked with me about them, in the hopes of gaining 
me over to his views, and getting me to enter upon the 
plan. The frontispiece for such a joint work is already 
designed ; and did I not fear to enter upon any new tasks at 
present, I might perhaps be tempted. 



Rome, Nov. 22, 1786. 
The Feast of St. Cecilia. 
The morning of this happy day I must endeavour to per- 
petuate by a few lines, and at least by description to impart 
to others what I have myself enjoyed. The weather has been 
beautiful and calm, quite a bright sky, and a warm sun. Ac- 
companied by Tischbein, I set off for the Piazza of St. Peter's, 
where we went about first of all from one part to another; 
when it became too hot for that, walked up and down in the 
shade of the great obelisk, which is full wide enough for two 
abreast, and eating grapes which we purchased in the neigh- 
bourhood. Then we entered the Sistine Chapel, which we 
found bright and cheerful, and with a good light for the pic- 
tures. "The Last Judgment" divided our admiration with 
the paintings on the roof by Michael Angelo. I could only 
see and wonder. The mental confidence and boldness of the 
master, and his grandeur of conception, are beyond all ex- 
pression. After we had looked at all of them over and over 
again, we left this sacred building, and went to St. Peter's, 
which received from the bright heavens the loveliest light 
possible, and every part of it was clearly lit up. As men 
willing to be pleased, we were delighted with its vastness 
and splendour, and did not allow an over nice or hypercritical 



ROME-— ST. Peter's. 365 

taste to mar oiir pleasui'e. We suppressed every harsher 
judgment: we enjoyed the enjoyable. 

Lastly we ascended the roof of the church, where one finds 
in little the plan of a well-built city. Houses and magazines, 
springs (in appearance at least), churches, and a great 
temple all in the air, and beautiful walks between. We 
mounted the dome, and saw glistening before us the regions 
of the Apennines, Soracte, and towards Tivoli the volcanic 
hills. Frascati, Castelgandolfo, and the plains, and beyond 
all the sea. Close at our feet lay the whole city of Kome in 
its length and breadth, with its mountain palaces, domes, kc. 
Not a breath of air was moving, and in the upper dome it 
was (as they say) like being in a hot-house. When we had 
looked enough at these things, we went down, and they 
opened for us the doors in the cornices of the dome, the 
tympanum, and the nave. There is a passage all round, and 
from above you can take a view of the whole church, and of 
its several parts. As we stood on the cornices of the tympa- 
num, we saw beneath us the pope passing to his mid-day 
devotions. Nothing, therefore, was wanting to make our 
view of St. Peter's perfect. We at last descended to the 
area, and took in a neighbouring hotel a cheerful but frugal 
meal, and then set off for St. Cecilia's. 

It would take many words to describe the decorations of 
this chm-ch, which was crammed full of people ; not a stone 
of the edifice was to be seen. The pillars were covered 
with red velvet wound round with gold lace ; the capitals 
were overlaid with embroidered velvet, so as to retain some- 
what of the appearance of capitals, and all the cornices and 
pillars were in like manner covered with hangings. All the 
entablatures of the walls were also covered with life-like 
paintings, so that the whole church seemed to be laid out in 
mosaic. Around the church, and on the high altar more 
than two hundred wax tapers were burning. It looked like 
a wall of lights, and the whole nave was perfectly lit up. 
The aisles and side altars were equally adorned and illumi- 
nated. Right opposite the high altar, and under the organ, 
two scaffolds were erected, which also were covered with 
velvet, on one of which were placed the singers, and on the 
other the instruments, which kept up one unbroken strain of 
music. The church was crammed full. 



863 LETTERS FSOM ITALY. 

I have heard an excellent kind of musical accompaniment, 
just as there are concerts of violins, or of other instruments, 
so here they had concerts of voices; so that one voice — the 
soprano for instance — ^predominates, and sings solo, while 
from time to time the chorus of other voices falls in, and 
accompanies it, always of course with the whole orchestra. 
It has a good effect. I must end, as we in fact ended the 
day. In the evening we come upon the Opera, where no less 
a piece than " I Litiganti" was being performed, but we had 
all the day enjoyed so much of excellence, that we passed 
by the door. 



Rome, Nov 23, 1786. 

In order that it may not be the same with my dear incog- 
nito as with the ostrich, v/hich thinks itself to be concealed 
when it has hid its head, so in certain cases I give it up, still 
maintaining, however, my old thesis. I had without hesita- 
tion paid a visit of compliment to the Prince von Lichten- 
stein, the brother of my much-esteemed friend the Countess 
Harrach, and occasionally dined with him, and I soon per- 
ceived that my good-nature in this instance was likely to 
lead me much further. They began to feel their way, and to 
talk to me of the Abbe Monti, and of his tragedy of Aris- 
todemus, which is shortly to be brought out on the stage. 
The author, it was said, wished above all things to read it to 
me, and to hear my opinion of it, but I contrived, however, 
to let the matter drop, without positively refusing ; at last, 
however, I m.et the poet and some of his friends at the prince's 
house, and the play was read aloud. 

The hero is, as is well known, the King of Sparta, who by 
various scruples of conscience was driven to commit suicide. 
Prettily enough they contrived to intimate to me their hope 
that the author of Werther would not take it ill if he found 
some of the rare passages of his own work made use of 
in this drama. And so even before the walls of Sparta I can 
not escape from this unhappy youth. 

The piece has a very simple and calm movement, the 
sentiments as well as the language are well suited to the 
subject, — ^full of energy, and yet of tenderness. The work is 
6 proof of very fair talents. 



SOME— Monti's aeistodemus. 367 

1 failed not, according to my fashion, (not, indeed, after 
the Italian fashion) to point out, and to dwell upon all the 
excellencies and merits of the piece, with which, indeed, all 
present were tolerably satisfied, though still with Southern 
impatience they seemed to require something more. I even 
ventm-ed to predict what effect it was to be hoped the piece 
would have from the public. I excused myself on account of 
my ignorance of the country, its way of thinking and tastes, 
but was candid enough to add, that I did not clearly see how 
the Romans, with the^r vitiated taste, who were accustomed to 
see as an interlude either a complete comedy of three acts, 
or an opera of two, or could not sit out a grand opera, without 
the intermezzo of wholly foreign ballets, could ever take de- 
light in the calm, noble movement of a regular tragedy. Then, 
again, the subject of a suicide seemed to me to be altogether 
out of the pale of an Italian's ideas. That they stabbed men 
to death, I laiew by daily report of such events ; but that any 
one should deprive himself of his own precious existence, or 
even should hold it possible for another to do so ; of that no 
trace or symptom had ever been brought under my notice. 

However I allowed myself to be circumstantially en. 
lightened as to all that might be urged in answer to my 
objections, and readily yielded to their plausible arguments. 
I also assm-ed them I wished for nothing so much as to see 
the piece acted, and with a band of friends to welcome it 
with the most dowm-ight and loudest applause. This assu- 
rance was received in the most friendly manner possible, and 
I had this time at least no cause to be dissatisfied with my 
compliance — ^for indeed Prince Lichstenstein is politeness 
itself, and found opportunity for my seeing in his company 
many precious works of art, a sight of which is not easily 
obtained without special permission, and for which conse- 
quently high influence is indispensable. On the other hand, 
my good humour failed me, when the daughter of the Preten- 
der expressed a wish to see the strange marmoset. I declined 
the honour, and once more completely shrouded myself beneath 
m.y disguise. 

But still that is not altogether the right way, and I here 
feel most sensibly what I have often before observed in life, 
that the man who makes good his first wish, must be on the 
alert and active, must oppose himself to very much besides the 



363 LETTEES mOM ITALY. 

selfish, the mean, and the bad. It is easy to see this, but ri 
is extremely difficult to act in the spirit of it. 



Nov. 24, 1786. 

Of the people I can say nothing more than that they are 
fine children of nature, who, amidst pomp and honours of all 
kinds, religion and the arts, are not one jot different from 
what they would be in caves and forests. What strikes the 
stranger most, and what to-day is making the whole city to 
talk, but only to talh, is the common occurrence of assassina- 
tion. To-day the victim has been an excellent artist — 
Sehwendemann, a Swiss, a medallionist. The particulars of 
his death greatly resemble those of Windischmann's. The 
assassin with whom he was struggling gave him twenty stabs, 
and as the watch came up, the villain stabbed himself. This 
is not generally the fashion here; the murderer usually 
makes for the nearest church, and once there, he is quite 
safe. 

And now, in order to shade my picture a little, I might 
bring into it crimes and disorders, earthquakes and inunda- 
tions of all kinds, but for an eruption of Vesuvius, which has 
just broke out, and has set almost all the visitors here in 
motion ; and one must, indeed, possess a rare amount of self- 
control, not to be carried away by the crowd. Really this 
phenomenon of nature has in it something of a resemblance 
to the rattle-snake, for its attraction is irresistible. At this 
moment it almost seems as if all the treasures of art in Rome 
were annihilated; every stranger, without exception, has 
broken off the current of his contemplations, and is hurrying 
to Naples ; I, however, shall stay, in the hope that the moun- 
tain will have a little eruption, expressly for my amusement. 



Rome, Dec, 1, 1786. 
Moritz is here, who has made himself famous by his 
" Anthony the Traveller {Anton Eeiset%) and his " Wander- 
ings in England" {Wanderunge7i nach England.) He is a 
right down excellent man, and we have been greatly pleased 
with him. 



HOME— ABCHENHOLZ'S ITALY. 369 

Rome, Dec. 1, 17&6. 

Here in Home, where one sees so many strangers, all of 
whom do not visit this capital of the world merely for the 
sake of the fine arts, but also for amusements of every kind, 
the people are prepared for everything. Accordingly, they 
have invented and attained great excellence in certain half 
arts which require for their pursuit little more than manual 
skill and pleasui-e in such handiwork, and which consequently 
attract the interest of ordinary visitors. 

Among these is the art of painting in wax. Requir- 
ing little more than tolerable skill in water-colouring, it 
serves as an amusement to employ one's time in preparing 
and adapting the wax, and then in burning it, and in such like 
mechanical labours. Skilful artists give lessons in the art, and, 
under the pretext of showing their pupils how to perform 
their tasks, do the chief part of the work themselves, so that 
when at last the figure stands out in bright relief in the 
gilded frame, the fair disciple is ravished with the proof of 
her unconscious talent. 

Another pretty occuj)ation is, with a very fine clay, to take 
impressions of cameos cut in deep relief. This is also done in 
the case of medallions, both sides of which are thus copied az 
once. More tact, attention, and diligence is required, lastly, 
for preparation of the glass-paste for mock jewels. For aL 
these things Hofrath Reifienstein has the necessary workshops 
and laboratories either in his house, or close at hand. 



Dec. 2, 1786. 
I have accidentally found here Archenholtz's Italy. A 
work written on the spot, in so contracted and narrow- 
minded a spirit as this, is just as if one were to lay a book 
purposely on the coals, in order that it might be browned and 
blackened, and its leaves curled up and disfigured with smoke. 
No doubt he has seen all that he writes about, but he pos- 
sesses far too little of real knowledge to support his high pre- 
tensions and sneering tone ; and whether he praises or blauifcfi^ 
ae is always in the wrong. 



Vol. II. 2 b 



870 LETTEES PKOM ITALY. 

Dec, 2, 1786. 

S-uch beautiful warm and quiet weather at the end of 
November, (which however is often broken by a day's rain,) 
is quite new to me. We spend the fine days in the open air, 
the bad in our room; everywhere there is something to 
learn and to do, something to be delighted with. 

On the 28th we paid a second visit to the Sistine Chapel, and 
had the galleries opened, in order that we might obtain a 
nearer view of the ceiling. As the galleries are very narrow, 
it is only with great difficulty that one forces one's way up 
them, by means of the iron balustrades. There is an appear- 
ance of danger about it, on which account those who are liable 
to get dizzy had better not make the attempt ; all the discom- 
fort, however, is fully compensated by the sight of the great 
masterpiece of art. And at this moment I am so taken with 
Michael Angelo, that after him I have no taste even for nature 
herself, especially as I am unable to contemplate her with the 
same eye of genius that he did. Oh, that there were only 
some means of fixing such paintings in my soul ! At any rate, 
I shall bring with me every engraving and draMdng of his pic- 
tures or drawings after him that I can lay hold of. 

Then we went to the Loggie, painted by Raffaelle, and 
scarcely dare I say that we could not endure to look at 
them. The eye had been so dilated and spoiled by those great 
forms, and the glorious finish of every part, that it was 
not able to follow the ingenious windings of the Arabesques ; 
and the Scripture histories, h6wever beautiful they were, did 
not stand examination after the former. And yet to see these 
works frequently one after another, and to compare them toge- 
ther at leisure, and without prejudice, must be a source of 
great pleasure,— for at first all sympathy is more or less 
exclusive. 

From hence, under a sunshine, if anything rather too 
warm, we proceeded to the Villa Pamphili, whose beautiful 
gardens are much resorted to for amusement ; and there we 
remained tiU evening. A large flat meadow, enclosed by long 
ever green oaks and lofty pines, was sown all over with daisies, 
which turned their heads to the sun. I now revived my 
botanical speculations, which I had indulged in the other day 
during a walk towards Monte Mario, to the Villa Melini, and 
the Villa Madama. It is very interesting to observe the 



HOME — THE APOLLO BELVEDEUE, &C. 37l 

working of a vigorous unceasing vegetation, which is here un- 
broken by any severe cold. Here there are no buds : one has 
actually to learn what a bud is. The strawberry-tree {arbutus 
uneclo) is at this season, for the second time, in blossom, while 
its last fruits are just ripening. So also the orange-tree may 
seen in flower, and at the same time bearing partially and fully 
ripenedfruit. (The latter trees, however, if they are not sheltered 
by standing between buildings, are, at this season, generally 
covered). As to the cypress, that most "venerable" of trees, 
when it is old and well grown, it affords matter enough for 
thought. As soon as possible I shall pay a visit to the Botanical 
Gardens, and hope to add there much to my experience. 
Generally, there is nothing to be compared with the new life 
which the sight of a new country affords to a thoughtful per- 
son. Although I am still the same being, I yet think I am 
changed to the very marrow. 

For the present I conclude, and shall perhaps fill the next 
sheet with murders, disorders, earthquakes, and troubles, 
in order that at any rate my pictures may not be without 
their dark shades. 



Rome, Dec. 3, 1786. 

The weather lately has changed almost every six days. 
Two days quite glorious, then a doubtful one, and after it 
two or three rainy ones, and then again fine weather. I 
endeavour to put each day, according to its nature, to the 
best use. 

And yet these glorious objects are even still like new 
acquaitances to me. One has not yet lived with them, nor got 
familiar with their peculiarities. Some of them attract us 
with irresistible power, so that for a time one feels indifferent, 
if not imjust, towards all others. Thus, for instance, the Pan- 
theon, the Apollo Belvedere, some colossal heads, and very 
recently the Sistine Chapel, have by turns so won my whole 
heart, that I scarcely saw any thing besides them. But, 
in truth, can man, little as man always is, and accustomed to 
littleness, ever make himself equal to all that here surrounds 
him of the noble, the vast, and the refined ? Even though 
he should in any degree adapt himself to it, then how 
vast is the multitude of objects that immediately press upon 
2b 2 



372 LETTERS PKOM ITALY, 

him from all sides, and meet him at every turn, of which 
each demands for itself the tribute of his whole attention. 
How is one to get out of the difficulty? No other way 
assuredly than by patiently allowing it to work, becoming 
industrious, and attending the while to all that others have 
accomplished for our benefit. 

Winckelmann's History of Art, translated by Rea, (the 
new edition), is a very useful book, which I have just pro- 
cured, and here on the spot find it to be highly profitable, as 
I have around me many kind friends, willing to explain and 
to comment upon it. 

Roman antiquities also begin to have a charm for me. 
History, inscriptions, coins, (of which formerly I knew 
nothing,) all are pressing upon me. As it happened to me 
in the case of natural history, so goes it with me here also ; 
for the history of the whole world attaches itself to this spot, 
and I reckon a new-birth day, — a true new birth from the 
day that I entered Rome. 



Decemher 5, 1786. 
During the few weeks I have been here, I have already seen 
many strangers come and go, so that I have often wondered at 
the levity with which so many treat these precious monu- 
ments. God be thanked that hereafter none of those birds of 
passage will be able to impose upon me. When in the north 
they shall speak to me of Rome, none of them now will be 
able to excite my spleen, for I also have seen it, and know too, 
in some degree, where I have been. 



December 8, 1786. 

We have every now and then the finest days possible. The 
rain which falls from time to time has made the grass and 
garden stuffs quite verdant. Evergreens too are to be seen 
here at different spots, so that one scarcely misses the fallen 
leaves of the forest trees. In the gardens you may see 
orange-trees full of fruit, left in the open ground and not 
under cover. 

I had intended to give you a particular account of a very 
pleasant trip which we took to the sea, and of our fishing ex- 
ploits, but in the evening poor Moritz, as he was riding 



ROME ^AVINCKEIiMANK's LETTEllS. 373 

iiome, broke his arm, his horse having slipped on the smooth 
Roman pavement. This marred all our pleasure, and has 
plunged our little domestic circle in sad afiiiction. 



Bee, 15," 1786. 

I am heartily delighted that you have taken my sudden 
disappearance just as I wished you should. Pray appease 
for me every one that may have taken offence at it. I never 
wished to give any one pain, and even now I cannot say 
anything to excuse myself. God keep me from ever afflicting 
my friends with the premises which led me to this conclusion. 

Here I am gradually recovering from my " salto mortale," 
and studying rather than enjoying myself. Rome is a world, and 
one must spend years before one can become at all acquainted 
with it. How happy do I consider those travellers who can 
take a look at it and go their way ! 

Yesterday many of Winckelmann's letters, which he wrote 
from Italy, fell into my hands. With what emotions did I 
not begin to read them. About this same season, some one and 
thirty years ago, he came hither a still poorer simpleton than 
myself, but then he had such thorough German enthusiasm 
for all that is sterling and genuine, either in antiquity or 
art. How bravely and diligently did he not work his way 
through all difficulties ; and what good does it not do me, — 
the remembrance of such a man in such a place ' 

After the objects of Nature, who in all her parts is true to 
herself and consistent, nothing speaks so loudly as the re- 
membrance of a good intelligent man, — that genuine art which 
is no less consistent and harmonious than herself. Here in 
Rome we feel this right well, where so many an arbitrary 
caprice has had its day, where so many a folly has immor- 
talized itself by its power and its gold. 

The following passage in Winckelmann's letters to Fran- 
conia particularly pleased me. " We must look at all the 
obiects in Rome with a certain degree of phlegm, or else one 
wiU be taken for a Frenchman. In Rome, I believe, is the 
high school for all the world, and I also have been purified 
and tried in it." 

This remark applies directly to my mode of visiting the 
different objects here ; and most certain is it, that out of 



374 XETTERS PEOM ITALY. 

Rome no one can have an idea how one is schooled in Rome 
One must, so to speak, be new born, and one looks back on 
one's earlier notions, as a man does on the little shoes, whicln 
fitted him when a child. The most ordinary man learns 
something here, at least he gains one micommon idea, even 
though it never should pass into his whole being. 

This letter will reach you in the new year. All good 
wishes for the beginning ; before the end of it we shall see 
one another again, and that will be no little gratification. 
The one that is passing away has been the most important 
of my life. I may now die, or I may tarry a little longer yet ; 
in either case it will be alike well. And now a word or two 
more for the little ones. 

To the children you may either read or tell what follows. 
Here there are no signs of winter. The gardens are planted 
with evergreens ; the sun shines bright and warm ; snow is 
nowhere to be seen, except on the most distant hills towards 
the north. The citron trees, which are planted against the 
garden walls, are now, one after another, covered with reeds, but 
the oranges are allowed to stand quite open. A himdred of the 
very finest fruit may be seen hanging on a single tree, which 
is not, as with us, dwarfed, and planted in a bucket, but stands 
in the earth free and joyous, amidst a long line of brothers. 
The oranges are even now very good, but it is thought they 
will be still finer. 

We were lately at the sea, and had a haul of fish, and 
drew to the light fishes, crabs, and rare univalves of the most 
wonderful shapes conceivable ; also the fish which gives an 
electric shock to all who touch it. 



Ilojne, Bee. 20, 1786. 
And yet, after all, it is more trouble and care than enjoy- 
ment. The Regenerator, which is changing me Mdthin and 
without, continues to work. I certainly thought that I had 
something really to learn here ; but that I should have to take 
so low a place in the school, that I must forget so much that 
I had learnt, or rather absolutely unlearn so much, — that I had 
never the least idea of. Now, however, that I am once convinced 
of its necessity, I have devoted myself to the task ; and the more 
I am obUged to renounce my former self, the more delighted I 



EOME DK. MUNTEK. 6 i Ij 

am. lam like an architect who has begun to build a tower, 
but finds he has laid a bad foundation : he becomes av/are of 
the fact betimes, and wiUingly goes to work to pull down all 
that he has raised above the earth ; having done so, he pro- 
ceeds to enlarge his ground plan, and now rejoices to anti- 
cipate the undoubted stability of his future b-iilding. Heaven 
grant that, on my return, the moral consequences may be dis- 
cernible of all that this living in a wider world has effected 
within me. For, in sooth, the moral sense as well as the 
artistic is undergoing a great change. 

Dr. Miinter is here on his return from his tour in Sicily — 
an energetic, vehement man. What objects he may have, I 
cannot tell. He will reach you in May, and has much to tell 
you. He has been two years travelling in Italy. He is dis- 
gusted with the Itahans, who have not paid due respect to 
the weighty letters of recommendation which were to have 
opened to him many an archive, many a private library ; so 
that he is far from having accomplished his object in coming 
here. 

He has collected some beautiful coins, and possesses, he 
tells me, a manuscript which reduces numismatics to as pre- 
cise a system of characteristics as the Linnsean system of 
botany. Herder, he says, knows still more about it : probably 
a transcript of it will be permitted. To do something of the 
kind is certainly possible, and, if well done, it will be trulj^ 
valuable ; and we must sooner or later enter seriously into this 
branch of learnins-. 



Eome, Dec. 25, 1786. 

I am now beginning to revisit the principal sights of Rome : 
in such second views, our first amazement generally dies away 
into more of sympathy and a purer perception of the true value 
of the objects. In order to form an idea of the highest achieve- 
ments of the human mind, the soul must first attain to perfect 
freedom from prejudice and prepossession. 

Marble is a rare material. It is on this account that the 
ApoUo Belvedere in the original is so infinitely ravishing ; for 
that subhme air of youthful freedom and vigour, of never- 
changing juvenescence, which breathes around the marble, at 
once vanishes in the best even of plaster casts. 



376 LETTERS EHOM ITALY. 

In tlie Palace Rondanini, which, is right opposite to our 
lodgings, there is a Medusa-mask, above the size of life, in 
which the attempt to pourtray a lofty and beautiful counte- 
nance in the numbing agony of death has been indescribably 
successful. I possess an excellent cast of it, but the charm 
of the marble remains not. The noble semi-transparency of 
the yellow stone — approaching almost to the hue of flesh — ^is 
vanished. Compared with it, the plaster of Paris has a chalky 
and dead look. 

And yet how delightful it is to go to a modeller in gj^isum, 
and to see the noble limbs of a statue come out one by one 
from the mould, and thereby to acquire wholly new ideas of 
their shapes. And then, again, by such means all that in 
Eome is scattered, is brought together, for the purpose of com- 
parison ; and this alone is of inestimable service. Accordingly, 
I could not resist the temptation to procure a cast of the co- 
lossal head of Jupiter. It stands right opposite to my bed, in 
a good light, in order that I may addi-ess my morning devo- 
tions towards it. With all its grandeur and dignity it has, 
however, given rise to one of the funniest interludes possible. 

Om- old hostess, when she comes to make my bed, is gene- 
rally followed by her pet cat. Yesterday I was sitting in the 
great hall, and could hear the old woman pursue her avocation 
within. On a sudden, in great haste, and with an excitement 
quite unusual to her, she opens the door, and calls to me to come 
quickly and see a wonder. To my question what was the 
matter, she replied the cat was saying its prayers. Of the 
animal she had long observed, she told me, that it had as 
much sense as a Christian— but this was really a great wonder. 
I hastened to see it with my own eyes ; and it was indeed 
strange enough. The bust stood on a high pedestal, and as 
there was a good length of the shoulders, the head stood 
rather high. Now the cat had sprung upon the table, and 
had placed her fore-feet on the breast of the god, and, stretch- 
ing her body to its utmost length, just reached with her muzzle 
his sacred beard, which she was licking most ceremoniously ; 
and neither by the exclamation of the hostess, nor my entrance 
into the room, was she at all disturbed. I left the good dame 
to her astonishment ; and she afterwards accounted for puss's 
strange act of devotion, by supposing that this sharp-nosed 
cat had caught scent of the grease which had probably been 



BOME PORTRAIT BY TISCHEEEN. 3T7 

transferred from the mould to the deep lines of the beard, and 
had there remained. 



Dec. 29, 1786. 

Of Tischbein I have much to say and to boast. In the first 
place, a thorough and original German, he has made himself 
entirely what he is. In the next place, I must make grateful 
mention of the friendly attentions he has shevm me through- 
out the time of his second stay in Rome. For he "has had 
prepared for me a series of copies after the best masters, 
some in black chalk, others in sepia and water colours ; which 
in Germany, when I shall be at a distance from the originals, 
wiU grow in value, and will serve to remind me of all that is 
rarest and best. 

At the commencement of his career as an artist, when he 
set up as a portrait painter, Tischbein came in contact, 
especially in Munich, with distinguished personages, and in 
his intercourse with them his feeling of art has been strength- 
ened and his views enlarged. 

The second part of the " Zerstrente Blatter'''' (stray leaves) I 
have brought with me hither, and they are doubly welcome. 
"What good influence this little book has had on me, even on 
the second perusal, Herder, for his reward, shall be circum- 
stantially informed. Tischbein cannot conceive how anything 
so excellent could ever have been written by one who has 
never been in Italy. 

Dec. 29, 1786. 
In this world of artists one lives, as it were, in a mirrored 
chamber, where, without wishing it, one sees one's own image 
and those of others continually multiphed. Latterly I have often 
observed Tischbein attentively regarding me : and now it 
appears that he has long cherished the idea of painting my 
portrait. His design is already settled, and the canvass stretched. 
I am to be drawn of the size of life, enveloped in a white mantle, 
and sitting on a fallen obelisk, viewing the ruins of the Cam- 
pagna di Roma, which are to fill up the background of the 
picture. It will form a beautiful piece, only it will be rather 
too large for our northern habitations. I indeed may again 
crawl into them, but the portrait will never be able to enter 
their doors. 



378 JLETTEES FKOM ITALY. 

Bee. 29, 17S6. 

I cannot help observing the great efforts that are constantlv 
being made to draw me from my retirement — how the poets 
either read or get their pieces read to me ; and I should be 
blind did I not see that it depends only on myself whether I 
shall play a part or not. All this is amusing enough ; for I 
have long since measured the lengths to which one may go in 
E-ome. The many little coteries here at the feet of the mis- 
tress of the world strongly remind one occasionally of an ordi- 
nary country town. 

In sooth, things here are much like what they are every 
where else ; and what could he done with me and through me 
causes me ennui long before it is accomplished. Here you 
must take up with one party or another, and help them to 
carry on their feuds and cabals ; and you must praise these 
artists and those dilettanti, disparage their rivals, and, above 
all, be pleased with every thing that the rich and great do. 
All these little meannesses, then, for the sake of which one is 
almost ready to leave the world itself, — ^must I here mix my- 
self up with them, and that too when I have neither interest 
nor stake in them ? No ; I shall go no further than is merely 
necessary to know what is going on, and thus to learn, in 
private, to be more contented with my lot, and to procure for 
myself and others all the pleasure possible in the dear wide 
world. I wish to see Rome in its abiding and permanent 
features, and not as it passes and changes with every ten years. 
Had I time, I might wish to employ it better. Above all, 
one may study history here quite differently from what one 
can on any other spot. In other places one has, as it were, 
to read oneself into it from without ; here one fancies that he 
reads from within outwards : all arranges itself around you, 
and seems to proceed from you. And this holds good not only of 
Roman history, but also of that of the whole world. From Rome 
I can accompany the conquerors on their march to theWeser 
or to the Euphrates ; or, if I wish to be a sight-seeer, I can wait 
in the Via Sacra for the triumphant generals, and in the mean- 
time receive for my support the largesses of corn and money ; 
and so take a very comfortable share in all the splendour. 

Rome, Jan. 2, 1787. 
Men. may Bay v/hat they will in favour of a written and 



HOME ^MY PLANS POK THE EUTUilE. 37^ 

oral commimication ; it is only in a very few cases indeed that 
it is at all adequate, for it never can convey the true character 
of any object soever — no, not even of a purely intellectual one. 
But if one has already enjoyed a sure and steady view of the 
object, then one may profitably hear or read about it, for then 
there exists a living impression around which all else may 
arrange itself in the mind ; and then one can think and judge. 
You have often laughed at me, and wished to drive me 
away from the peculiar taste I had for examining stones, 
plants, or animals, from certain theoretical points of view: 
now, however, I am directing my attention to architects, sta- 
tuaries, and painters, and hope to find myself learning some- 
thing even from them. 

Without date. 

After all this I must further speak to you of the state of in- 
decision I am in with regard to my stay in Italy. In my last 
letter I wrote you that it was my purpose immediately after 
Easter to leave Rome, and return home. Until then I shall 
yet gather a few more shells from the shore of the great ocean, 
and so my most urgent needs will have been appeased. I am 
now cured of a violent passion and disease, and restored to 
the enjoyment of life, to the enjoyment of history, poetry, and 
of antiquities, and have treasures which it will take me many 
a long year to polish and to finish. 

Recently, however, friendly voices have reached me to the 
effect that I ought not to be in a hurry, but to wait till I can 
return home with still richer gains. From the Duke, too, I 
have received a very kind and considerate letter, in which he 
excuses me from my duties for an indefinite period, and sets me 
quite at ease with respect to my absence. My mind there- 
fore tm-ns to the vast field which I must otherwise have left 
untrodden. For instance, in the case of coins and cameos, I 
have as yet been able to do nothing. I have indeed begun to 
read Winckelmann's History of Art, but have passed over 
Egypt ; for, I feel once again, that I must look out before 
me ; and I have done so with regard to Egyptian matters. 
The more we look, the more distant becomes the horizon of 
art ; and he who would step surely, must step slowly. 

I intend to stay here till the Carnival ; and, in the first week 
of Lent shall set off for Naples, taking Tischbein with me^ 



380 LETTEES PKOM ITALY. 

both because it will be a treat to him, and because, in his 
society, all my enjoyments are more than doubled. I purpose 
to return hither before Easter, for the sake of the solemnities of 
Passion week. But there Sicily lies — there below. A journey 
thither requires more preparation, and ought to be taken too 
in the autumn : it must not be merely a ride round it and across 
it, which is soon done, but from which one brings away with 
us in return for our fatigue and money nothing but a simple — 
/ ham seen it. The best way is to take up one's quarters, first 
of all, in Palermo, and afterwards in Catania ; and then from 
those points to make fixed and profitable excursions, having 
previously, however, well studied Riedesel and others on the 
locality. 

If, then, I spend the summer in Rome, I shall set to work to 
study, and to prepare myself for visiting Sicily. As I cannot 
well go there before November, and must stay there till over 
December, it will be the spring of 1788 before I can hope to 
get home again. Then, again, I have had before my mind a 
medius terminus. Giving up the idea of visiting Sicily, I have 
thought of spending a part of the summer at Rome, and then, 
after paying a second visit to Florence, getting home by the 
autumn. 

But all these plans have been much perplexed by the news of 
the Duke's misfortune. Since the letters which informed me 
of this event I have had no rest, and would most like to set off 
at Easter, laden with the fragments of my conquests, and, 
passing quickly through Upper Italy, be in Weimar again by 
June. 

I am too much alone here to decide ; and I write you this long 
story of my whole position, that you may be good enough to sum- 
mon a council of those who love me, and who, being on the spot, 
know the circumstances better than I do. Let them, therefore, 
determine the proper course for me to take, on the supposition 
of what, I assure you, is the fact, that I am myself more dis- 
posed to return than to stay. The strongest tie that holds me 
in Italy is Tischbein. I should never, even should it be my 
happy lot to return a second time to this beautiful land, learn 
so much in so short a time as I have now done in the society 
of this well-educated, highly refined, and most upright man, 
who is devoted to me both body and soul. I cannot now tell 
foil how thickly the scales are falling from off my eyes. He who 



HOME — COIiOSSAIi HEAD OE JUNO. 381 

travels by night, takes the dawn for day, and a murky day for 
brightness : what will he think, then, when he shall see the 
sun ascending the mid-heaven? For I have hitherto kept 
myself from all the world, which yet is yearning to catch me 
by degrees, and which I, for my part, was not unwilling to 
watch and observe with stealthy glances. 

I have written to Fritz a joking accomit of my reception 
into the Arcadia; and indeed it is only a subject of joke, for 
the Institute is really sunk into miserable insignificance. 

Next Monday week Monti's tragedy is to be acted. He is 
extremely anxious, and not without cause. He has a very 
troublesome public, which requires to be amused from moment 
to moment ; and his piece has no brilliant passages in it. He 
has asked me to go with him to his box, and to stand by him 
as confessor in this critical moment. Another is ready to 
translate my " Iphigenia ;" another — to do I know not what, in 
honour of me. They are all so divided into parties, and so 
bitter against each other. But my countrjonen are so unani- 
mous in my favour, that if I gave them any encourage- 
ment, and yielded to them in the very least, they would try a 
hundred follies with me, and end with crowning me on the 
Capitol, of which they have already seriously thought — so 
foolish is it to have a stranger and a Protestant to play the 
first part in a comedy. What connexion there is in all this, 
and how great a fool I was to think that it was all intended 
for my honour, — of all this we will talk together one day. 



JanuG,ry 6, 1787. 

I have just come fromMoritz, whose arm is healed, and loosed 
from its bandages. It is well set, firm, and he can move it quite 
freely. What during these last forty days I have experienced 
and learned, as nurse, confessor, and private secretary to this 
patient, may prove of benefit to us hereafter. The most pain- 
ful sufferings and the noblest enjoyments went side by side 
throughout this whole period. 

To refresh me, I yesterday had set up in our r.itling-room 
a cast of a colossal head of Juno, of which the original is in 
the Villa Ludovisi. This was my first love in Rome ; and now 
I have gained the object of my wishes. No words can give 
the remotest idea of it. It is like one of Homer's songs. 



3S2 LETTEKS rHOM ITALY. 

I liave, however, deserved the neighbourhood of such good 
Boeieiy lor the future, for I can now tell you that Iphlgenia 
is at last finished — i. e. that it lies before me on the table in 
two tolerably concordant copies, of which one will very soon 
begin its j)ilgrimage towards yourself. Receive it with all 
indulgence, for, to speak the truth, what stands on the paper 
is not exactly what I intended ; but still it will convey an idea 
of what was in my mind. 

You complain occasionally of some obscure passages in 
my letters, which allude to the oppression, which I suffer in 
the midst of the most glorious objects in the world. With 
all this my fellow traveller, this Grecian princess, has had a 
great deal to do, for she has kept me close at work when I 
wished to be seeing sights. 

I often think of our worthy friend, who had long determined 
upon a grand tour, which one might well term a voyage of 
discovery. After he had studied and economized several 
years, with a view to this object, he took it in his head to 
carry away with him the daughter of a noble house, thinking 
it was all one still. 

With no less of caprice, I determined to take Iphigenia 
with me to Carslbad. I will now briefly enumerate the 
places where I held special converse with her. 

When I had left behind me the Brenner, I took her out of 
my large portmanteau, and placed her by my side. At the 
Lago di Garda, while the strong south wind drove the waves 
on the beach, and where I was at least as much alone as 
my heroine on the coast of Tauris, I drew the first 
outlines, which afterwards I filled up at Verona, Vicenza, 
and Padua ; but above all, and most diligently at Venice. 
After this, however, the work came to a stand- still, for I hit 
upon a new design, viz., of writing an Iphigenia at Delphi, 
which I should have immediately carried into execution, but 
for the distractions of my young, and for a feeling of duty 
towards the older piece. 

In Rome, however, I went on with it, and proceeded with 
tolerable steadiness. Every evening before I went to sleep 
I prepared myself for my morning's task, which was resumed 
immediately I awoke. My way of proceeding was quite 
simple. I calmly wrote down the piece, and tried the melody 
line by line, and period by period. What has been thus 



SOME — CHilISTMAS-DA.Y. 383 

produced, you shall soon judge of. For my part, doing tins 
work, I have learnt more tlian I have done. With the piece 
itself there shall follow some further remarks. 



Jan. 6, 1787. 

To speak again of church matters, I must tell you that on 
the night of Christmas-day we wandered about in troops, and 
visited all the churches where solemn services were being per- 
formed ; one especially was visited, because of its organ and 
music. The latter was so arranged, that in its tones nothing 
belonging to pastoral music was wanting — neither the singing 
of the shepherds, nor the twittering of birds, nor the bleating 
of sheep. 

On Christmas- day I saw the Pope and the whole consistory in 
S. Peter's, where he celebrated high mass partly before and 
partly from his throne. It is of its kind an unequalled sight, 
splendid and dignified enough, but I have grown so old in my 
Protestant Diogenism, that this pomp and splendour revolt 
more than they attract me. I, like my pious forefathers, am dis- 
posed to say to these spiritual conquerors of the world, " Hide 
not from me the sun of higher art and purer humanity." 

Yesterday, which was the Feast of Epiphany, I saw and 
heard mass celebrated after the Greek rite. The ceremonies 
appeared to me more solemn, more severe, more suggestive, 
and yet more popular than the Latin. 

But there, too, I also felt again that I am too old for any- 
thing, except for truth alone. Their ceremonies and operatic 
miusic, their gp-ations and ballet-like movements— it all 
passes off from me like water from an oilskin cloak. A work 
of nature, however, like that of a Sunset seen from the 
Villa Madonna — a work of art, like my much honom-ed Juno, 
makes a deep and vivid impression on me. 

And now I must ask you to congratulate me with regard to 
theatrical matters. Next week seven theatres will be opened. 
Anfossi himself is here, and will act " Alexander in India." 
A Cyrus also will be represented, and the "Taking of 
Troy" as a ballet. That assuredly must be something for 
the children! 



384 LETTERS FSOII ITALY. 

Rome, Jan, 10, 1787. 

Here, then, conies the " child of sorrows," for this sur- 
name is due to " Iphigenia" in more than one sense. On the 
occasion of my reading it out to our artists, I put a mark 
against several lines, some of which I have in my opinion 
improved, but others I have allowed to stand — perhaps Herder 
wiU cross a few of them with his pen. 

The true cause of my having for many years preferred 
prose for my works, is the great uncertainty in which our 
prosody fluctuates, in consequence of wliich many of my 
judicious, learned friends and feUow artists have left many 
things to taste, a course, however, which was little favour- 
able to the establishing of any certain standard. 

I should never have attempted to translate " Iphigenia" 
into iambics, had not Moritz's prosody shone upon me like a 
star of light. My conversation with its author, especially 
during his confinement from his accident, has stiU more en- 
lightened me on the subject, and I would recommend my 
friends to think favourably of it. 

It is somewhat singular, that in our language we have but 
very few syllables which are decidedly long or short. With all 
the others, one proceeds as taste or caprice may dictate. 
Now Moritz, after much thought, has hit upon the idea that 
there is a certain order of rank among our syllables, and that 
the one which in sense is more emphatic is long as compared 
with the less significant, and makes the latter short, but on the 
other hand, it does in its turn become short, whenever it 
comes into the neighbourhood of another which possesses 
greater weight and emphasis than itself. Here, then, is at 
least a rule to go by : and even though it does not decide the 
whole matter, still it opens out a path by which one may hope 
to get a little further. I have often allowed myself to be 
influenced by these rules, and generally have found my ear 
agreeing with them. 

As I formerly spoke of a public reading, I must quietly 
tell you how it passed ofil These young men accustomed ta 
those earlier vehement and impetuous pieces, expected some- 
thing after the fashion of Berlichingen, and could not so weU 
make out the calm movement of " Iphigenia," and yet the 
nobler and purer p8^,ssages did not fail of effect, Tischbein, 



HOME— A STATU JS OF MI^'ESVA- 335 

who also could hardly reconcile himself to this entire absence of 
])assion, produced a pretty illustration or sjTubol of the work. 
He illustrated it by a sacrifice, of which the smoke, borne down 
by a light breeze, descends to the earth, while the freer flame 
strives to ascend on high. The drawing was very pretty and 
significant. I have the sketch still by me. And thus the 
work, which I thought to despatch in no time, has employed, 
hindered, occupied, and tortured me a full quarter of a year. 
This is not the first time that I have made an important 
task a mere by-work ; but we will on that subject no longer 
indulge in fancies and disputes. 

I inclose a beautiful cameo, — a lion with a gad-fly buzzing 
at his nose ; this seems to have been a favourite subject with 
the ancients, for they have repeated it very often. I shoidd like 
you from this time forward to seal your letters with it, in 
order that through this (little) trifle an echo of art may, as 
it were, reverberate from you to me. 



Rome^ Jan. 13, 1787. 
Ho^v much have I to say each day, and how sadly am I pre- 
vented, either by amusement or occupation, from committing 
to paper a single sage remark! And then again, the fine 
days when it is better to be anywhere rather than in one's 
room, which, without stove or chimney, receive us only to 
sleep or to discomfort ! Some of the incidents of the last week, 
however, must not be left unrecorded- 

In the Palace Giustiniani there is a Minerva, which claims 
my undivided homage. Winckelmann scarcely mentions it, 
and, at any rate, not in the right place ; and I feel myself 
quite unworthy to say anything about it. As we contem- 
plated the image, and stood gazing at it a long time, the 
wife of the keeper of the collection said — ^This must have once 
been a holy image ; and the English, who happen to be of 
this religion, are still accustomed to pay worship to it by 
kissing this hand of it, (which in truth was quite white, 
while the rest of the statue was brownish). She further told 
us, that a lady of this religion had been there not long before, 
and, throwing herself on her knees before the statue, had 
regularly ofiered prayer to it; and I, she said, as a Christian, 
could not help smiling at so strange an action, and was 

Vol. II. 2 r. 



386 LETTERS TEOM ITALY. 

obliged to run out of the room, lest I should burst out into & 
loud laugh before her face. As I was unwilling to move from 
the statue, she asked me if my beloved was at all like the 
statue that it charmed me so much. The good dame knew of 
nothing besides devotion or love ; but of the pure admira- 
tion for a glorious piece of man's handiwork, — of a mere 
sympathetic veneration for the creation of the human intel- 
lect, she could form no idea. We rejoiced in that noble 
Englishwoman, and went away with a longing to turn our 
steps back again, and I shall certainly soon go once more 
thither. If my friends wish for a more particular descrip- 
tion, let them read what Winckelmann says of the high style 
of art among the Greeks ; unfortunately, however, he does 
not adduce this Minerva as an illustration. But if I do not 
greatly err, it is, nevertheless, of this high and severe style, 
since it passes into the beautiful, — it is, as it were, a bud that 
opens, — and so a Minerva, whose character this idea of tran- 
sition so well suits. 

Now for a spectacle of a different kind. On the feast of 
the Tln-ee Kings, or the Commemoration of Christ's manifes- 
tation to the Gentiles, we paid a visit to the Propaganda. 
There, in the presence of three cardinals and a large audience, 
an essay was first of all delivered, which treated of the place 
in which the Virgin Mary received the three Magi, — ^in the 
stable, — or if not, where ? Next, some Latin verses were 
read on similar subjects, and after this a series of about 
thirty scholars came forward, one by one, and read a little 
piece of poetry in their native tongues ; Malabar, Epirotic, 
Turkish, Moldavian, Hellenic, Persian, Colcliian, Hebrew, 
Arabic, Syrian, Coptic, Saracenic, Armenian, Erse, Mada- 
gassic, Icelandic, Bohemian, Greek, Isaurian, ^thiopic, 
&c. The poems seemed for the most part to be composed in 
the national syllabic measure, and to be delivered with the 
vernacular declamation, for most barbaric rhythms and tones 
occurred. Among them the Greek sounded like a star in the 
night. The nnditory laughed most unmercifully at the 
strange sounds; and so this representation also became a 
farce. 

And now (before concluding) a little anecdote, to show 
with what levity holy things are treated in Holy Rome. The 
deceased cardinal, Albani, was once present at one of those 



KOME MOKTI, " AKISTOTjEMO." 387 

festal meetings which I have just been describing. One of 
the scholars, with his face tiu*ned towards the Cardinals, 
began in a strange pronunciation, Gnaja ! Gnaja ! so that it 
sounded something like canaglia ! canaglia ! The Cardinal 
turned to his brothers with a whisper, " He knows us at 
any rate." 



January 13, 1787. 
How much has Winckelmann done, and yet how much 
reason has he left us to wish that he had done stiU more. 
With the materials which he had collected he built quickly, 
in order to reach the roof. Were he still living, he would 
be the first to give us a re-cast of his great work. What 
further observations, what corrections would he not have 
made — to what good use would he not have put all that others , 
following his own principles, have observed and effected. 
And, besides, Cardinal Albani is dead, out of respect to 
whom he has written much ; and, perhaps, concealed much. 



January 15, 1787. 

And so then, " Aristodemo" has at last been acted, and 
with good success too, and the greatest applause ; as the 
Abbate Monti is related to the house of the Nepote, and is 
highly esteemed among the higher orders : from these, there- 
fore, all was to be hoped for. The boxes indeed were but 
sparing in their plaudits ; as for the pit, it was won from the 
very first, by the beautiful language of the poet and the 
appropriate recitation of the actors, and it omitted no 
opportunity of testifying its approbation. The bench of the 
German artists distinguished itself not a little ; and this time 
they were quite in place, though it is at all times a little 
overloud. 

The author himself remained at home, full of anxiety for 
the success of the piece. From act to act favourable des- 
patches arrived, which changed his fear into the greatest 
joy. Now there is no lack of repetitions of the representa- 
tion, and all is on the best track. Thus, by the most 
opposite things, if only each has the merit it claims, the 
favom- of the multitude, as well as of the connoisseur, may 
be won, 

.- « <i 

^ it ^ 



388 LETTESS PROM ITALY. 

But the acting was in the highest degree meritorious, and 
the chief actor, who appears throughout the piece, spoke and 
acted cleverly, — one could almost fancy one of the ancient 
CsDsars was marching before us. They had very judiciously 
transferred to their stage dresses the costume which, in the 
statue, strikes the spectator as so dignified ; and one saw at 
once that the actor had studied the antique. 



Jmiuary 18, 1787. 

Rome is threatened with a great artistic loss. The King 
of Naples has ordered the Hercules Farnese to be brought to 
his palace. The news has made all the artists quite sad ; 
however, on this occasion, we shall see something which was 
hidden from our forefathers. 

The aforesaid statue, namely, from the head to the knee, 
with the lower part of the feet, together with the sockle on 
which it stood, were found within the Farnesian domain, but 
the legs from the knee to the ancle were wanting, and had 
been supplied by Giuglielmo Porta ; on these it had stood since 
its discover}^ to the present day. In the mean time, how- 
ever, the genuine old legs were found in the lands of th^ 
Borghesi, and were to be seen in their villa. 

Recently, however, the Prince Borghese has achieved a 
victory over himself, and has made a present of these costly 
relics to the King of Naples. The legs by Porta are being 
removed, and the genuine ones replaced; and every one is 
promising himself, however well contented he has been 
hitherto with the old, quite a new treat, and a more harmo- 
nious enjoyment. 



Rome, January 18, 1787. 

Yesterday, which was the festival of the Holy Abbot S. 
Antony, we had a merry day ; the weather was the finest in 
the world; though there had been a hard frost during the 
night, the day was bright and warm. 

One may remark, that all religions which enlarge their 
worship or their speculations must at last come to this, 
of making the brute creation in some degree partakers of 
spiritual favours. S. Anthony, — Abbot or Bishop, — is the 
patron Saint of all four-footed creatures; his festival is a kind 



BOME— DEATH OF FEEDEKICK THE GHEAT. 389 

of Saturnalian holiday for the otherwise oppressed beasts, and 
also for their keepers and drivers. All the gentry must on 
tliis day either remain at home, or else be content to travel 
on foot. And there are no lack of fearful stories, which tell 
how unbelieving masters, who forced the " coachmen to drive 
them on this day, were punished by suffering great calamities. 

The church of the Saint lies in so wide and open a district, 
that it might almost be called a desert. On this day, however, 
it is full of life and fun. Horses and mules, with their manes 
and tails prettily, not to say gorgeously, decked out with 
ribbons, are brought before the little chapel, (which stands 
at some distance from the church,) where a priest, armed 
with a brush, and not sparing of the holy water, which stands 
before him in buckets and tubs, goes on sprinkling the lively 
creatures, and often plays them a roguish trick, in order to make 
them start and frisk. Pious coachmen offer their wax-tapers, of 
larger or smaller size ; the masters send alms and presents, 
in order that the valuable and useful animals may go safely 
through the coming year vdthout hurt or accidents. The 
donkies and horned cattle, no less valuable and useful to their 
owners, have, likewise, their modest share in this blessing. 

Afterwards we delighted ourselves with a long walk under 
a delicious sky, and surrounded by the most interesting 
objects, to which, however, we this time paid very little 
attention, but gave full scope and rein to joke and mer- 
riment. 



Rome, January 19, 1Y87. 

So then the great king, whose glory filled the world, whose 
deeds make him worthy even of the Papists' paradise, has 
departed this life, and gone to converse with heroes like him- 
self in the realm of shades. How disposed does one feel to 
sit still when such an one is gone to his rest. 

This has been a very good day. First of all we visited a 
part of the Capitol, which we had previously neglected ; then 
we crossed the Tiber, and drank some Spanish wine on 
board a ship wiiich had just come into port : — it was on this 
spot that Romulus and Remus are said to have been found. 
Thus keeping, as it were, a double or treble festival, we 
revelled in the inspiration of art, of a mild atmosphere, and 
of antiquarian reminiscenceji. 



390 LETTERS ¥ROBI ITALY. 

January 20, 1787. 

What at first furnislies a hearty enjo^' ,iient, when we take 
it superficially only, often weighs on us afterwards most 
oppressively, when we see that without solid knowledge the 
true delight must be missed. 

As regards anatomy, I am pretty well prepared, and I have, 
not without some labour, gained a tolerable knowledge of the 
human frame ; for the continual examination of the ancient 
statues is continually stimulating one to a more perfect under- 
standing of it. In our Medico Chirurgical Anatomy, little 
more is in view than an acquaintance with the several parts, 
and for this purpose the sorriest picture of the muscles may 
serve very well ; but in Eome the most exquisite parts would 
not even be noticed, unless as helping to make a noble and 
beautiful form. 

In the great Lazaretto of San Spiiito there has been pre- 
pared for the use of the artists a very fine anatomical figure, 
displaying the whole muscular system. Its beauty is really 
amazing. It might pass for some flayed demigod, — even a 
Marsyas. 

Thus, after the example of the ancients, men here study 
the human skeleton, not merely as an artistically arranged 
series of bones, but rather for the sake of the ligaments with 
which life and motion are carried on. 

When now I tell you, that in the evening we also study 
perspective, it must be pretty plain to you that we are not 
idle. With all our studies, however, we are always hoping 
to do more than we ever accomplish. 



Rome, January 22, 1787. 

Of the artistic sense of Germans, and of their artistic life, 
of these one may well say, — One hears sounds, but they are 
not in unison. When now I bethink myself what glorious 
objects are in my neighbourhood, and how little I have pro- 
fited by them, I am almost tempted to despair; but then 
again I console myself with my promised return, when I 
hope to be able to understand these master-pieces, around 
which now I go groping miserably in the dark. 

But, in fact, even in Rome itself, there is but Httle pro- 
vision made for one who earnestly wishes to study art as a 



HOME ^THE HEMOVAL OF AIS'TIQUES. 391 

whole. He must patcli it up and put it together for himself out 
of endless but still gorgeously rich ruins. No doubt but few 
only of those who visit Kome, are pm-ely and earnestly desi- 
rous to see and to learn things rightly and thoroughly. They 
all follow, more or less, their own fancies and conceits, and 
this is observed by all alike who attend upon the strangers. 
Every guide has his own object, every one has his own 
dealer to recommend, his own artist to favour; and why 
should he not? for does not the inexperienced at once 
prize, as most excellent, whatever may be presented to him 
as such ? 

It would have been a great benefit to the study of art — indeed 
a peculiarly rich museum might have been formed — ^if the 
government, (whose permission even at present must be 
obtained before any piece of antiquity can be removed from 
the city,) had on such occasions invariably insisted on casts 
being delivered to it of the objects removed. Besides, if 
any Pope had established such a rule, before long every one 
would have opposed all farther removals ; for in a few years 
people would have been frightened at the number and value 
of the treasures thus carried off, for which, even now, per- 
mission can only be obtained by secret influence. 



January 22, 1787. 

The representation of the "Aristodemo" has stimulated, in 
an especial degree, the patriotism of our German artists, which 
hefore was far from being asleep. They never omit an occasion 
to speak well of my " Iphigenia ;" some passages have from 
time to time been again called for, and I have found myself 
at last compelled to a second reading of the whole. And 
thus also I have discovered many passages wWch went off 
the tongue more smoothly than they look on the paper. ^ 

The favorable report of it has at last sounded even in the 
ears of Reiffenstein and Angelica, who entreated that I should 
produce my work once more for their gratification. I begged, 
J^ jwever, for a brief res]3ite, though I was obliged to describe to 
diem, somewhat circumstantially, the plan and movement ot 
the plot. The description won the approbation of these person 
ages more even than I could have hoped for; and Signoi 
Zucchi also, of whom I least of all expected it, evinced a >varin 



392 LETTERS ^-ROM ITALY. 

and liberal sympathy witli the piece. The latter circumstance, 
however, is easily accoimted for by the fact that the drama 
approximates yery closely to the old and customary form of 
Greek, French, and Italian tragedy, which is most agree- 
able to every one whose taste has not been spoilt by the teme- 
rities of the English stage. 



Eome, Jan. 25, 1787. 

It becomes every day more difficult to fix the termination 
of m}^ stay in Rome ; just as one finds the sea continually 
deeper the further one sails on it, so it is also with the exa- 
mination of this city. 

It is impossible to understand the present without a know- 
ledge of the past ; and to compare the two, requires both time 
and leisure. The very site of the city carries us back to the 
time of its being founded. We see at once that no great 
people, under a wise leader, settled here from its wanderings, 
and with ^\ise forecast laid the foundations of the seat of future 
empire. No powerful prince would ever have selected this spot 
as well suited for the habitation of a colony. No ; herdsmen 
and vagabonds first prepared here a dwelling for themselves : 
a couple of adventm-ous you.ths laid the foundation of the 
palaces of the masters of the world on the hill at whose foot, 
amidst the marshes and the silt, they had defied the officers 
of law and justice. Moreover, the seven hills of Rome are not 
elevations above the land w^hich lies beyond them, but merely 
above the Tiber and its ancient bed, which afterwards became 
the Campus Martins. If the coming spring is favourable to 
my making wider excursions in the neighbourhood, I shall 
be able to describe more fully the unfavourable site. Even 
now I feel the most heartfelt sympathy with the grief and 
lamentation of the women of Alba whey they saw their city 
destroyed, and w^ere forced to leave its beautiful site, the 
choice of a wise prince and leader, to share the fogs of the 
Tiber, and to people the miserable Coelian hill, fiom which 
their eyes still fell upon the paradise they had been drawjy 
from. 

I know as yet but little of the neighbourhood, but I am 
perfectly convinced that no city of the ancient world was 
worse situated than Rome : no wonder, then, if the Romans^ 



SOME FATHEE. JACCltri.\3S. 393 

as soon as they had swallowed up all the neighbouring states, 
^vent out of it, and, with their villas, returned to the noble 
sites of the cities they had destroyed, in order to live and to 
enjoy life. 



Rome, Jan. 25, 1787. 

It suggests a very pleasing contemplation to think how 
many people are living here in retirement, calmly occupied 
with their several tastes and pursuits. In the house of a 
clergyman, who, without any particular natural talent, has 
nevertheless devoted himself to the arts, we saw most interest- 
ing copies of some excellent paintings which he had imitated 
in miniature. His most successful attempt was after the Last 
Supper of Leonardo da Vinci. The moment of time is when 
the Lord, who is sitting familiarly at supper with his disciples, 
utters the awful w^ords, " One of you shall betray me." 

Hopes are entertained that he will allow an engraving to 
be taken either of this or of another copy, on which he is at 
present engaged. It wiU be indeed a rich present to give to 
the great public a faithful imitation of this gem of art. 

A few daj^s since I visited, at the Trinita de' Monte, Father 
Jacquier, a Franciscan. He is a Frenchman by birth, and 
weU. known by his mathematical writings ; and although far 
advanced in years, is still very agreeable and intelligent. He 
has been acquainted with aU the most distinguished men of 
his day, and has even spent several months with Voltaire, who 
had a great hking for him. 

I have also become acquainted with many more of 
such good, sterling men, of v/hom countless numbers are 
to be found here, whom, however, a sort of professional mis- 
trust keeps estranged from each other. The book-trade fur- 
nishes no point of union, and literary novelties are seldom 
fruitful ; and so it befits the solitary to seek out the hermits. 
For since the acting of "Aristodemo," in whose favour we made 
a very lively demonstration, I have been again much sought 
after. But it was quite clear I was not sought for my own 
sake ; it was always with a view to strengthen a party — to 
use me as an instrument ; and if I had been wiUing to come 
forward and declare my side, I also, as a phantom, should for 
a time have played a short part. But now, since they see tlia^ 



394 XETTEKS FSOM ITALY. 

nothing is to be made of me, they let me pass ; and so I go 
steadily on my own way. 

Indeed, my existence has lately taken in some ballast, which 
gives it the necessary gravity. I do not now frighten myself 
with the spectres which used so often to play before my eyes. 
Be, therefore, of good heart. You will keep me above water, 
and draw me back again to you. 



Rome, Jan. 28, 1787. 

Two considerations which more or less affect every things 
and which one is compelled at every moment to give way to, 
I must not fail to set down, now that they have become quite 
clear to me. 

First of all, then, the vast and yet merely fragmentary riches 
of this city, and each single object of art, is constantly suggest- 
ing the question. To what date does it owe its existence? 
Winckelmann urgently calls upon us to separate epochs, to dis- 
tinguish the different styles which the several masters employed, 
and the way in which, in the com-se of time, they gradually per- 
fected them, and at last corrupted them again. Of the necessity 
of so doing, everyreal friend of art is soon thoroughly convinced. 
We all acknowledge the justice and the importance of the 
requisition. But now, how to attain to this conviction ? How- 
ever clearly and correctly the notion itself may be conceived, 
yet without long preparatory labours there will always be a 
degree of vagueness and obscimty as to the particular appli- 
cation. A sure eye, strengthened by many years' exercise, is 
above all else necessary. Here hesitation or reserve are of no 
avail. Attention, however, is now directed to this point ; and 
every one who is in any degree in earnest seems convinced 
that in this domain a sure judgment is impossible, unless 
it has been formed by historical study. 

The second consideration refers exclusively to the arts of 
the Greeks, and endeavours to ascertain how those inimitable 
artists proceeded in their successful attempts to evolve from 
the human form their system of divine types, which is so per- 
fect and complete, that neither any leading character nor any 
intermediate shade or transition is wanting. For my part, I 
cannot withhold the conjectm-e that they proceeded according 
to the same laws that Nature works by, and which I am endea- 



i 



SOME — THE COLISEUM. 395 

vouring to discover. Only, there is in them something more 
besides, which it is impossible to express. 



Rome, Feb. 2, 1787. 
Of the beauty of a walk through Rome by moonlight it is 
impossible to form a conception, without having witnessed it. 
All single objects are swallowed up by the great masses of 
light and shade, and nothing but grand and general outlines 
present themselves to the eye. For three several days we 
have enjoyed to the ftdl the brightest and most glorious of 
nights. Peculiarly beautiful at such a time is the Coliseum. 
At night it is always closed; a hermit dwells in a little 
shrine within its range, and beggars of all kinds nestle 
beneath its crumbling arches : the latter had lit a fire on the 
arena, and a gentle wind bore down the smoke to the ground, 
so that the lower portion of the ruins was quite hid by it, 
while above the vast walls stood out in deeper darkness 
before the eye. As we stopped at the gate to contemplate 
the scene through the iron gratings, the moon shone brightly 
in the heavens above. Presently the smoke foimd its way up 
the sides, and through every chink and opening, while the 
moon lit it up like a cloud. The sight was exceedingly glo- 
rious. In such a light one ought also to see the Pantheon, 
the Capitol, the Portico of St. Peter's, and the other grand 
streets and squares: — and thus sun. and moon, like the human 
mind, have quite a different work to do here from elsewhere, 
where the vastest and yet the most elegant of masses present 
themselves to their rays. 



Rome, Feb. 13, 1787. 
I must mention a trifling fall of luck, even though it is but 
a little one. However, all luck, whether great or little, is of 
one kind, and always brings a joy with it. Near the Trinita 
de' Monte the ground has been, lately dug up to form a foun- 
dation for the new Obehsk, and now the whole of this region 
is choked up with the ruins of the Gardens of Lucullus, which 
subsequently became the property of the Emperors. My perru- 
quier was passing early one morning by the spot, and found in 
the pile of earth a flat piece of burnt clay, with some figures on it, 



396 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

Having washed it, he showed it to me. I eagerly secured 
the treasure. It is not quite a hand long, and seems to have 
been part of the stem of a great key. Two old men stand 
before an altar ; they are of the most beautiful workmanship, 
mid I am uncommonly delighted with my new acquisition. 
Were they on a cameo, one would greatly like to use it as a 
■seal. 

I have by me a collection also of many other objects, and 
none is worthless or unmeaning, — -for that is impossible ; here 
€ver3^thing is instructive and significant. But my dearest 
treasure, however, is even that which I carry with me in my 
soul, and which, every growing, is capable of a still greater 
growth. 



Ro7ne, Feb 15, 1787. 

Before departing for Naples, I could not get off from 
another public reading of my " Iphigenia." Madam Angelica 
and Hofrath Beiffenstera were the auditory, and even Signer 
Zucchi had solicited to be present, because it \vas the wish oi 
his spouse. While it was reading, however, he worked away 
fit a great architectural plan — for he is very sldlful in executing 
drawings of this kind, and especially the decorative parts. He 
went with Clerisseauto Dalmatia, and was the associate of all his 
labours, drawing the buildings and ruins for the plates, which 
the latter published. In this occupation he learned so much 
of perspective and effect, that in his old days he is able to 
amuse himself on paper in a very rational manner. 

The tender soul of Angelica listened to the piece with in- 
credible profoundness of sympathy. She promised me a 
-drawing of one of the scenes, which I am to keep in re- 
membrance of her. And now, just as I am about to quit 
Bome, I begin to feel myself tenderly attached to these kind- 
hearted people. It is a source of mingled feelings of pleasure 
find regret to know that people are sorry to part with you. 

Rome, Feb. 16, 1787. 

The safe arrival of " Iphigenia" has been announced to me 

in a most cheering and agreeable way. On my way to the 

Opera, a letter from a, weU-known hand was brought to me, 

—this time doubly welcome, since it was sealed with the 



r.oMS — "iPHiGEiaA" — "tasso.*' 397 

"Lior" a premonitory token of fhe safe arrival of my 
packet. I hurried into the Opera-house, and bustled to get 
a place among the strange faces beneath the great chandelier. 
At this moment I felt myself dra^Yn so close to my friends, 
that I could almost have sprung forward to embrace them. 
From my heart I thank you even for having simply mentioned 
the arrival of the " Iphigenia," may your next be accom- 
panied with a few kind v^^ords of approval. 

Inclosed is the list of those among whom I wish the copies 
vdiich I am to expect from Gosche to be distributed; for 
although it is with me a perfect matter of indifference how 
the public may receive these matters, still I hope by them 
to furnish slight gratification to my friends at least. 

One undertakes too much. When I think on my last four 
volumes together, I become almost giddy — I am obliged to 
think of them separately, and then the fit passes off". 

I should perhaps have done better had I kept my first 
resolution to send these things one by one into the world, and 
so undertake with fresh vigour and courage the new subjects 
which have most recently awakened my sjnupathy. Should 
I not, perhaps, do better were I to write the " Iphigenia at 
Delphi," instead of amusing myself with my fanciful sketches 
of'Tasso." However, I have bestowed upon the latter too 
much of my thoughts to give it up, and let it fall to the 
ground. 

I am sitting in the ante-room near the chimney, and the 
warmth of a fire, for once well fed, gives me courage to com- 
mence a fresh sheet, for it is indeed a glorious thing to be 
able, with our newest thoughts, to reach into the distance, 
and by words to convey thither an idea of one's immediate 
state and circumstances. The weather is right glorious, the 
days are sensibly lengthening, the laurels and box are in 
blossom, as also are the ahnond-trees. Early this morning I 
was delighted with a strange sight ; I saw in the distance tall, 
pole-like trees, covered over and over with the loveliest 
violet flowers. On a closer examination I found it was the 
plant known in our hothouses as the Judas-tree, and to bota- 
nists as the " cercis siliquastrum'' Its papilionaceous violet 
blossoms are produced directly from out of the stem. The 
stakes which I saw had been lopped last winter, and out of 
their bark well-shaped and deeply- tinted flowers were bursting 



398 LETTEBS FKOM ITALY. 

by thousands. The daisies are also springing out of the ground 
as thick as ants; the crocus and the pheasant's eye are more 
rare, but even on this account more rich and ornamental. 

"^Vhat pleasures and what lessons will not the more southern 
land impart to me, and what new results will arise to me 
from them ! With the things of nature it is as with those of 
art ; much as is written about them, every one who sees them 
forms them into new combinations for himself. 

When I think of Naples, and indeed of Sicily, — when I 
read their history, or look at views of them, it strikes me as 
singular that it should be even in these paradises of the world 
that the volcanic mountains manifest themselves so violently, 
for thousands of years alarming and confounding their inha- 
bitants. 

But I willingly drive out of my head the expectation of 
these much -prized scenes, in order that they may not lessen 
my enjoyment of the capital of the whole world before I 
leave it. 

For the last fourteen days I have been moving about from 
morning to night ; I am raking up everything I have not yet 
seen. I am also viewing for a second or even a third time all 
the most important objects, and they are all arranging them- 
selves in tolerable order within my mind : for while the 
chief objects are taking their right places, there is space and 
room between them for many a less important one. My 
enthusiasm is purifying itself, and becoming more decided, 
and now at last my mind can rise to the height of the 
greatest and purest creations of art with calm admiration. 

In my situation one is tempted to envy the artist who, by 
copies and imitations of some kind or other can, as it were, 
come near to those great conceptions, and can grasp them 
better than one who merely looks at and reflects upon them. 
In the end, however, every one feels he must do his best ; and 
so I set all the sails of my intellect, in the hope of getting 
round this coast. 

The stovo is at present thoroughly warm, and piled up with 
excellent coals, which is seldom the case with us, as no one 
scarcely has time or inclination to attend to the fire two 
whole hours together; I will therefore avail myself of this 
agreeable temperature to rescue from my tablets a few notes 
which are almost obliterated. 



HOME ^TASSO'S ETJEIAL-PLACE. 399 

On the 2nd of February we attended tlie ceremony of 
blessing the tapers in the Sistine chapel. I was in anything 
Dut a good humour, and shortly went off again with my 
friends ; for I thought to myself those are the very candles 
which, for these three hundred years, have been dimming 
those noble paintings, audit is their smoke which, with priestly 
impudence, not merely hangs in clouds around the only sun 
of art, but from year to year obscures it more and more, and 
will at last envelop it in total darkness. 

We therefore sought the free air, and after a long wallv 
came upon S. Onofrio's, in a corner of which Tasso is buried. 
In the library of the monastery there is a bust of him, the 
face is of wax, and I please myself with fancying that it was 
taken after death : although the lines have lost some of their 
sharpness, and it is in some parts injured, still on the whole 
it serves better than any other I have yet seen to convey an 
idea of a talented, sensitive, and refined but reserved character. 

So much for this time. I must now tm^n to glorious 
Volckmann's 2nd part, which contains Rome, and which I 
have not yet seen. Before I start for Naples, the harvest 
must be housed; good days are coming for binding the 
sheaves. 



Rome, Feb. 17, 1787. 
The weather is incredibly and inexpressibly beautiful ; for 
the whole of February, with the exception of four rainy days, 
a pure bright sky, and the days towards noon almost too warm. 
One is tempted out into the open air, and if tiU lately one 
spent all one's time in the city among gods and heroes, the 
country has now all at once resumed its rights, and one can 
scarcely tear oneself from the surrounding scenes, lit up as 
they are with the most glorious days. Many a time does the 
remembrance come across me how our northern artists labour 
to gain a charm from thatched roofs and ruined towers — 
how they turn round and roimd every bush and bourne, and 
crumbhng rock, in the hope of catching some pictm'esque 
effect 1 and I have been quite siu'prised at myself, when I find 
these things from habit still retaining a hold upon me. Be 
this as it may, however, within these last fourteen days I 
have plucked up a little courage, and, sketch-book in hand, 
have wandered up and down the hollows and heights of the 



4C0 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

neighbouring villas, and, without much consideration, have 
sketched off a few little objects characteristically southern, 
and Roman, and am now trying (if good luck will come to 
my aid) to give them the requisite lights and shades. 

It is a singular fact, that it is easy enough to clearly see 
and to acknowledge what is good and the excellent, but that 
when one attempts to make them one's own, and to grasp 
them, somehow or other they slip away, as it were, from 
between one's fingers ; and we apprehend them, not by the 
standard of the true and right, but in accordance with our 
previous habits of thought and tastes. It is only by constant 
practice that we can hope to improve ; but where- am I to find 
time and a collection of models ? Still I do feel myself a 
little improved by the sincere and earnest efforts of the last 
fourteen days. 

The artists are ready enough with their hints and instruc- 
tions, for I am quick in apprehending them. But then the 
lesson so quickly learnt and understood, is not so easily put 
in practice. To apprehend quickly is, forsooth, the attribute 
of the mind, but correctly to execute that, requires the prac- 
tice of a life. 

And yet the amateur, hovfever weak may be his efibrts at 
imitation, need not be discouraged. The few lines which I 
scratch upon the paper often hastily, seldom correctly facilitate 
any conception of sensible objects ; for one advances to an idea 
more surely and more steadily the more accurately and pre- 
cisely he considers individual objects. 

Only it wiU not do to measure oneself with artists ; every 
one must go on in his otvti style. For Nature has made pro- 
vision for aU her children ; the meanest is not hindered in its 
existence even by that of the most excellent. " A little man 
is stiU a man;" and with this remark, we will let the matter 
drop. 

I have seen the sea twice— first the Adriatic, then the 
Mediterranean, but only just to look at it. In Naples we 
hope to become better acquainted with it. AU within me 
seems suddenly to urge me on : why not sooner — why not 
at a less sacrifice ? How many thousand things, many quite 
new and for the first time, should I not have had to commu^ 
nioate ! 



ROME — ITALIAN SKIES. 401 

Ro7ne, Feb. 17, 1787. 
EveJiing, after the follies of the Carnival, 

I am sorry to go away and leave ]\Ioritz alone ; he is going 
on well, but when he is left to himself, he immediately shuts 
himself np and is lost to the world. I have therefore exhorted 
him to A\Tite to Herder : the letter is enclosed. I should wish for 
an answer, which may be serviceable and helpful to him. 
He is a strange good fellow ; he would have been far more so, 
had he occasionally met with a friend, sensible and affec- 
tionate enough to enlighten him as to his true state. At 
present he could not form an acquaintance likely to be more 
blessed to him than Herder's, if permitted frequently to write 
to him. He is at this moment engaged on a very laudable 
antiquarian attempt, which weU deserves to be encouraged : 
Friend Herder could scarcely bestow his cares better nor 
sow his good ad^dce in a more grateful soil. 

The great portrait of myself which Tischbein has taken in 
hand begins already to stand out from the canvass. The 
painter has employed a clever statuary to make him a little 
model in clay, which is elegantly draperied with the mantle ; 
with this he is working away diligently, for it must, he 
says, be brought to a certain point before we set out for 
Naples, and it takes no little time merely to cover so large a 
field of canvass with colours. 



Rome, Feb. 19, 1787. 
The weather continues to be finer than words can express. 
This has been a day miserably wasted among fools. At night- 
fall I betook myself to the Villa Medici. A new^ moon has 
just shone upon us, and below the slender crescent I could 
with the naked eye discern almost the Vfhole of the dark disc 
through the perspective. Over the earth hangs that haze of 
the day which the paintings of Claude have rendered so well 
knovm. In Nature, however, the phenomenon is perhaps no- 
where so beautiful as it is here. Flowers are now springing 
Dut of the earth, and the trees putting forth blossoms which 
hitherto I have been unacquainted with ; the almonds are in 
blossom, and between the dark-green oaks they make an appear- 
*xce as beautiful as it is new to me. The sky is like a bright 
Dlue taffeta in the sunshine ; what will it be in Naples ? 
Almost everything here is already green. JMy botanicai 

VOL. n. 2 » 



402 3LETTEKS EKOM ITALY. 

whims gain food and strength from all around; aiid I am on 
the way to discover new and beautiful relations by means of 
which Nature — that vast prodigy, which yet is nowhere 
visible— evolves the most manifold varieties out of the most 
simple. 

Vesuvius is throwing out both ashes and stones ; in the 
evening its summit appears to glow. May travailing Natm*e 
only favour us with a stream of lava. I can scarcely endure to 
wait till it shall be really my lot to witness such grand 

phenomena. 

Rome, Feh 21, 1787. 

Ash Wednesday^ 

The folly is now at an end. The countless lights of yester- 
day evening were, however, a strange spectacle. One must 
have seen the Carnival in Rome to get entirely rid of the 
wish to see it again. Nothing can be written of it : as a 
subject of conversation it may be amusing enough. The 
most unpleasant feeling about it is, that real internal joy is 
wanting — there is a lack of money, which prevents them en- 
joying the morsel of pleasure, which otherwise they might 
still feel in it. The great are economical, and hold back ; 
those of the middle ranks are without the means, and the 
populace without spring or elasticity. In the last days there 
was an incredible tumult, but no heartfelt joy. The sky, so 
infinitely fine and clear, looked uown nobly and innocently 
upon the mummeries. 

However, as imitation is out of the question, and cannot 
be thought of here, I send you, to amuse the children, some 
drawings of carnival masks, and some ancient Roman cos- 
tumes, "which are also coloured, as they may serve to supply 
a missing chapter in the " Orbis Pictus." 



Rome, Feh. 21, 1787. 

I snatch a few moments in the intervals of packing, to 
mention some particulars which I have hitherto omitted. 
To-morrow we set off for Naples. I am already deligJiting 
myself with the new scenery, which I promise myself will 
be inexpressibly beautiful ; and hope in this paradise of nature, 
to win n-esh freedom and pleasure for the study of ancient 
art, on my return to sober Rome. 

Packing uy is light work to me, since I can now do it 



HOME THE " TASSO." 403 

With a merrier heart than I had some six months ago, when I had 
to tear myself from all that was most dear and precious to 
me. Yes, it is now a full half year since ; and of the fom* 
months I have spent in Rome, not a moment has been lost. 
The boast may soimd big; nevertheless, it does not say too 
much. 

That " Iphigenia" has arrived, Ilaiow, — may, I learn at the 
foot of Vesuvius that it has met with a hearty welcome. 

That Tischbein, who possesses as glorious an eye for 
nature as for art, is to accompany me on this journey, is 
to me the subject of great congratulation: still, as genuine 
Germans, we cannot throw aside all purposes and thoughts 
of work. We have bought the best of drawing-paper, and 
we intend to sketch away; although, in all probability, 
the multitude, the beauty, and the splendour of the objects, 
will choke our good intentions. 

One conquest I have gained over myself. Of all my un- 
finished poetical works I shall take with me none but the 
"Tasso," of which I have the best hopes. If I could only know 
what you are now saying to " Iphigenia," yom- remarks might 
be some guide to me in my present labours ; for the plan of 
"Tasso" is very similar ; the subject still more confined, and 
in its several parts wiU. be even still more elaborately finished. 
Still I cannot tell as yet what it will eventually prove. What 
already exists of it must be destroyed ; it is, perhaps, somewhat 
tediously dra^sii out, and neither the characters nor the plot, nor 
the tone of it, are at all in harmony with my present views. 

In m-aking a clearance I have fallen upon some of your 
letters, and in reading them over I have just lighted upon a 
reproach, that in my letters I contradict myself. It may be so, 
but I was not aware of it ; for as soon as I have written a 
letter I immediately send it ofi": I must, however, confess 
that nothing seems to me more likely, for I have lately been 
tossed about by mighty spirits, and therefore it is quite 
natural if at times I Imow not where I am standing. 

A story is told of a skipper, who, overtaken at sea by a 
stormy night, determined to steer for port. His little boy, 
who in the dark was crouching by him, asked him, " What 
sdlly light is that which I see™at one time above us and at 
another below us?" His father promised to explain it to him. 
some other day; and then he told him that it " "vs the beaooa- 



404 LBTTEKS .p-aOM ITALY. 

o^ihe liglitliouse, wMch, to the eye now raised, now depressed, 
by the wild waves, appeared accordingly sometimes above 
and sometimes below. I too am steering on a passion-tossed 
sea for the harbour, and if I can only manage to hold steadily 
in my eye the gleam of the beacon, however it may seem to 
change its place, I shall at last enjoy the wished for shore. 

When one is on the eve of a departure, every earlier separa- 
tion, and also that last one of all, and which is yet to be, comes 
involuntarily into one's thoughts ; and so, on this occasion, the 
reflection enforces itself on my mind more strongly than ever, 
that man is always making far too great and too many prepa- 
rations for life. For we, for instance— Tischbein and I, that is 
— must soon turn our backs upon many a precious and glorious 
object, and even upon our well-furnished museum. In it there 
are now standing three gems for comparison, side by side, and 
yet we part from them as though they were not. 



NAPLES. 

Velletri, Feb. 22, 1787. 

We arrived here in good time. The day before yesterday 
the weather became gloomy; and our fine days were overcast: 
still some signs of the air seemed to promise that it would 
soon clear up again, and so indeed it turned out. The clouds 
gradually broke, here and there appeared the blue sky, and 
at last the sun shone full on our journey. We came through 
Albano, after having stopped before Genzano, at the entrance 
of a park, which the owner, Prince Chigi, in a very strange 
way holds, but does not keep up, on which account he will 
not allow any one to enter it. In it a true wilderness has 
been formed. Trees and shrubs, plants and weeds grow, 
wither, fall, and rot at pleasure. That is aU right, and 
indeed could not be better. The expanse before the entrance is 
inexpressibly fine. A high wall encloses the vaUey, a lattice- 
gate afibrds a view into it ; then the hill ascends, upon which, 
above you, stands the castle. 

But now I dare not attempt to go on with the description; 
and I can merely say, that at the very moment when from 
the summit we caught sight of the mountains of Sezza, the 
Pontine Marshes, the sea and its islands, a heavy passing 



VELLETRI A THICK UPOE" TRAVELLEHS. 405 

pliower was traversing tlie Marshes towards the sea, and 
the light and shade, constantly changing and moving, won 
derfiilly enlivened and variegated the dreary plain. The 
effect was beautifully heightened by the sun's beams which 
lit up with various hues, the columns of smote as they ascended 
from scattered and scarcely visible cottages. 

Velletri is agreeably situated on a volcanic hill, which, 
towards the north alone, is connected with other hills, and 
towards three points of the heavens commands a wide and 
uninterrupted prospect. 

We here visited the Cabinet of the Cavaliere Borgia, who, 
favoured by his relationship with the Cardinal has managed, 
by means of the Propaganda, to collect some valuable antiqui- 
ties and other curiosities. -Egyptian charms, idols cut out 
of the very hardest rock, some small figures in metal, of 
earlier or later dates, some pieces of statuary of burnt clay, 
with figures in low relief, which were dug up in the neigh- 
bom-hood, and on the authority of which one is almost 
tempted to ascribe to the ancient indigenous population a 
style of their own in art. 

Of other kinds of varieties there are numerous specimens 
in this museum. I noticed two Chinese black-painted boxes ; 
on the sides of one there was delineated the whole manage- 
ment of the silk- worm, and on the other the cultivation of 
rice : both subjects were very nicely conceived, and worked out 
with the utmost minuteness. Both the boxes and their covers 
are eminently beautiful, and, as well as the book in the 
library of the Propaganda, which I have already praised, are 
well worth seeing. 

It is certainly inexplicable that these treasures should be 
within so short a distance of Rome, and yet should not be 
more frequently visited ; but perhaps the difficulty and incon- 
venience of getting to these regions, and the attraction of the 
magic circle of Rome, may serve to excuse the fact. As we 
arrived at the inn, some women, who were sitting before the 
doors of their houses, called out to us, and asked if we 
wished to buy any antiquities ; and then, as we showed a 
pretty strong hankering after them, they brought out some 
old kettles, fire-tongs, and such like utensils, and were ready 
to die with laughing at having made fools of us. When we 
seemed a little put out, our f^uide assured us, to our comfort, 



406 LETTEKS FROM ITALY. 

that it was a customary joke, and that all strangers had tj 
submit to it. 

I am writing this in a very miserable auberge, and feel 
neither strength nor humour to make it any longer : therefore 
I must bid you a very good night. 

Fo7icli, Feb. 23, 1787. 

We were on the road very early, — ^by three in the morning. 
As the day broke we found ourselves on the Pontine Marshes, 
which have not by any means so ill an appearance as the 
common description in Rome would make out. Of course, by 
merely once passing over the marshes, it is not possible to 
judge of so great an undertaking as that of the intended 
draining of them, which necessarily requires time to test its 
merits ; still it does appear to me, that the works which have 
commenced by the Pope's orders, wiU, to a great extent at 
least, attain the desired end. Conceive to yourself a wide valley, 
which, as it stretches from north to south, has but a very slight 
fall, but which towards the east and the mountains is extremely 
low, but rises again considerably towards the sea on the west. 
Running in a straight line through the whole length of it, 
the ancient Via Appia has been restored. On the right of 
the latter the principal drain has been cut, and in it the water 
fiows with a rapid fall. By means of it the tract of land to 
the right has been drained, and is now profitably cultivated. 
As far as the eye can see, it is either akeady brought into 
cultivation or evidently might be so, if farmers could be 
found to take it, with the exception of one spot, which lies 
extremely low. 

The left side, which stretches towards the mountains, is 
more difficult to be managed. Here, however, cross-drains pass 
under the raised way into the chief drain ; as, however, the 
surface sinks again towards the mountains, it is impossible 
by this means to carry off the water entirely. To meet this 
difficulty it is proposed, I was told, to cut another leading 
drain along the foot of the mountains. Large patches, espe- 
cially towards Terracina, are thinly planted with wiUows and 
joplars. 

The posting stations consist merely of long thatched sheds. 
Tischbein sketched one of them, and enjoyed for his reward a 
gratification which only he could enjoy. A white horse having 



THE po:ntinx: map^shes. 407 

broke loose liad fled to tlie drained lands. Enjoying its liberty, 
it was galloping backwards and forwards on the brown turf 
like a flash of lightning ; in truth it was a glorious sight, 
rendered significant by Tischbein's rapture. 

At the point where the ancient village of Meza once stood, 
the Pope has caused to be built a large and fine building, which 
indicates the centre of the level. The sight of it increases one's 
hopes and confidence of the success of the whole undertaking. 
While thus we travelled on, we kept up a lively conversation to- 
gether, not forgetting the warning, that on this journey one 
must not go to sleep ; and, in fact, we were strongly enough 
reminded of the danger of the atmosphere, by the blue 
vapour which, even in this season of the year, hangs above the 
gromid. On this account the more delightful, as it was the 
more longed for, was the rocky site of Terracina ; and scarcely 
had we congratulated ourselves at the sight of it, than we 
caught a view of the sea beyond. Immediately afterwards the 
other side of the mountain city presented to our eye a vege- 
tation quite new to us. The Indian figs were pushing their 
large fleshy leaves amidst the gray green of dwarf myrtles, 
the yellowish green of the pomegranate, and the pale green 
of the olive. As we passed along, we noticed both flowers 
and shrubs quite new to. us. On the meadows the narcissus 
and the adonis were in flower. For a long time the sea was 
on om- right, while close to us on the left ran an unbroken 
range of limestone rocks. It is a continuation of the Apen- 
nines, which runs down from Tivoli and touches the sea, 
which it does not leave again till you reach the Campagna di 
Romana, where it is succeeded by the volcanic formations of 
Frescati, Alba, and Velletri, and lastly by the Pontine 
Marshes. Monte Circello, with the opposite promontory of 
Terracina, where the Pontine Marshes terminate, in all pro- 
bability consists also of a system of challi rocks. 

We left the sea coast, and soon reached the charming plain 
of Fondi. Every one must admire this little spot of fertile 
and well cultivated land, enclosed with hiUs, which them- 
selves are by no means wild. Oranges, in great numbers, are 
still hanging on the trees ; the crops, all of wheat, are beau- 
tifully green ; oHves are growing in the fields, and the Httle 
city is in the bottom. A palm tree, which stood out a marked 
object in the scenery, received our greetings. So much for 



408 LETTERS mOM ITALY. 

this evening. Pardon the scrawl. I must write without 
thinking, for writing sake. The objects are too numerous, 
my resting place too wretched, and yet my desire to commit 
something to paper too great. With nightfall we reached 
this place, and it is now time to go to rest. 



S. Affcita, Feb. 24, 1787. 

Althougn in a wretchedly cold chamber, I must yet try and 
give you some account of a beautiful day. It was already 
nearly light when we drove out of Fondi, and we were forth- 
with greeted by the orange trees which hang over the walls 
on both sides of our road. The trees are loaded with such 
numbers as can only be imagined and not expressed. Towards 
the top the young leaf is yellowish, but below and in the 
middle, of sappy green. Mignon was quite right to long 
for them. 

After this we travelled through clean and well- worked fields 
of wheat, planted at convenient distances with olive-trees. 
A soft breeze was moving, and brought to the light the silvery 
under-surface of the leaves, as the branches swayed gently 
and elegantly. It was a gray morning ; a north wind pro- 
mised soon to dispel all the clouds. 

Then the road entered a valley between stony but weU- 
dressed fields ; the crops of the most beautiful green. At cer- 
tain spots one saw some roomy places, paved, and surrounded 
with low walls ; on these the corn, which is never carried home 
in sheaves, is thrashed out at once. The vaUey gradually 
narrows, and the road becomes mountainous, bare rocks of 
limestone standing on both sides of us. A violent storm 
followed us, with a fall of sleet, which thawed very slowly. 

The walls, of an ancient style, built after the pattern 
of net-work, charmed us exceedingly. On the heights 
the soil is rocky, but nevertheless planted with olive-trees 
wherever there is the smallest patch of soil to receive them. 
Next we drove over a plain covered with olive-trees, and then 
through a small town. We here noticed altars, ancient tomb- 
stones, and fragments of every kind built up in the walls of 
the pleasure-houses in the gardens. Then the lower stories 
of ancient villas, once excellently built, but now filled up 



S. AGATA. 



409 



with earth, and overgrown with olives. At last we caught 
a sight of Vesuvius, with a cloud of smoke resting on its 
brow. 

Molo di Gaeta greeted us again with the richest of orange- 
trees ; we remained there some hours. The creek before the 
town, which the tide flows up to, affords one the finest 
of views. Following the line of coast, on the right, till the eye 
reaches at last the horn of the crescent, one sees at a mode- 
rate distance the fortress of Gaeta on the rocks. The left 
horn stretches out still fm-ther, presenting to the beholder 
first of all aline of moimtains, then Vesuvius, and, beyond 
all, the islands. Ischia lies before you nearly in the centre. 

On the shore here I found, for the first time in my life, a 
starfish, and an echinus thrown up by the sea ; a beautiful 
green leaf, {tethysfoliacea), smooth as the finest bath paper, 
and other remarkable rubble-stones, the most common being 
limestone, but occasionally also serpentine, jasper, quartz, 
granite, breccian pebbles, porphyry, marble of different 
kinds, and glass of a blue and green colour. The two last- 
mentioned specimens are scarcely productions of the neigh- 
bourhood. They are probably the debris of ancient buildings ; 
and thus we have seen the waves before our eyes playing with 
the splendours of the ancient world. We tarried awhile, and 
pleased ourselves with meditating on the nature of man, whose 
hopes, whether in the civilized or savage state, are so soon 
disappointed. 

Departing from Molo, a beautiful prospect still accompa- 
nies the traveller, even after his quitting the sea ; the last 
glimpse of it was a lovely bay, of which we took a sketch. We 
now came upon a good fruit country, with hedges of aloes. 
We noticed an aqueduct which ran from the mountains over 
some nameless and orderless masses of ruins. 

Next comes the ferry over the Garigliano ; after crossing it 
one passes through tolerably fruitful districts, till we reach 
the mountains. Nothing striking. At length, the first hill of 
lava. Here begins an extensive and glorious district of hill, 
and vale, over which the snowy summits are towering in the 
distance. On the nearest eminence lies a long town, which 
strikes the eye with an agreeable effect. In the valley lies 
S. Agata, a considerable inn, where a cheerful fire was 
burning in a chimney arranged as a cabinet ; however, ou? 



410 LETTERS FKOM ITALY. 

room is cold-— no window, only shutters, ivliich I am just 
hastening: to close. 



Naples, Feh. 25, 1787. 

And here we are happily arrived at last, and with good 
omens enough. Of our day's journey thus much only. We 
left S. Agata with sunrise, a violent north-east wind blow- 
ing on our backs, which continued the whole day through. 
It was not till noon that it was master of the clouds. "We 
suffered much from the cold. 

Our road again lay among and over volcanic hills, among 
which I did not notice many limestone rocks. At last we 
reached the plains of Capua, and shortly afterwards Capua 
itself, where we halted at noon. In the afternoon a beautiful 
but flat region lay stretched before us ; the road is broad, 
and runs through fields of green corn, so even that it looked 
like a carpet, and was at least a span high. Along the fields 
are planted rows of poplars, from which the branches are 
lopped to a great height, that the vines may run up them ; 
this is the case all the way to Naples. The soil is excellent, 
light, loose, and well worked. The vine stocks are of extra- 
ordinary strength and height, and their shoots hang in festoons 
like nets from tree to tree. 

Vesuvius was all the while on our left with a strong smoke, 
and I felt a quiet joy to think that at last I beheld with my 
own eyes this most, remarkable object. The sky became 
clearer and clearer, and at length the sun shone quite hot into 
our narrow rolling lodging. The atmosphere was perfectly 
clear and bright as we approached Naples, and we now found 
ourselves, in truth, in quite another world. The houses, 
with flat roofs, at once bespeak a different climate ; inwardly, 
perhaps, they may not be very comfortable. Every one is 
in the streets, or sitting in the sun as long as it shines. The 
Neapohtan believes himself to be in possession of Paradise, 
and entertains a very melancholy opinion of our northern 
lands. Sempre neve, caso di legno, gran ignoranza, ma 
danari assai. Such is the picture they draw of our condition. 
Interpreted for the benefit of all our German folk, it means — 
Always snow, wooden houses, great ignorance, but money 
enough. 



NAPLES— MY L0DGI]S'GS. 411 

Naples at first slglit leaves a free, cheerful, and lively 
impression; numberless beings are passing and repassing 
each other: the king is gone hunting, the qvieen promising ; 
and so things could not be better. 



Naples, Mondaij, Feb. 26, 1787. 

" Alia Locanda del Sgr. Moriconi al Largo del Castello''' 
Under this addi-ess, no less cheerful than high-sounding, 
letters from all the four quarters of heaven will hencefortii 
find us. Round the castle, which lies by the sea, there 
stretches a large open space, which, although surrounded on 
all sides with houses, is not called a square or piazza, but a 
largo, or expanse. Perhaps the name is derived from 
ancient times, when it was still an open and unenclosed 
country. Here, in a corner house on one side of the Largo, 
we have taken up our lodgings in a corner room, which 
commands a free and lively view of the ever moving surface. 
An iron balcony runs before several windows, and even round 
the corner. One v/ould never leave it, if the sharp wind 
were not extremely cutting. 

The room is cheerfully decorated, especially the ceiling, 
whose arabasques of a hundred compartments bear witness to 
the proximity of Pompeii and Hercuianeum. Now, all this is 
very well and very fine ; but there is no fire-place, no 
chimney, and yet February exercises even here its rights. 
I expressed a wish for something to warm me. They brought 
in a tripod of sufficient height from the ground for one con- 
veniently to hold one's hands over it ; on it was placed a 
shallow brazier, full of extremely fine charcoal red-hot, but 
covered smoothly over with ashes. We now found it an 
advantage to be able to manage this process of domestic 
economy ; we had learned that at Rome. With the ring of 
a key, from time to time, one cautiously draws away the 
ashes of the surface, so that a few of the embers may be ex- 
posed to the free air. Were you impatiently to stir up the 
glowing coals, you would no doubt experience for a few 
moments great warmth, but you would in a short time exhaust 
the fuel, and then you must pay a certain sum to have tli^ 
brasier filled again. 



412 LETTERS FEOM ITALY. 

I did not feel quite well, and could have wished for more 
of ease and comfort. A reed matting was all there was to 
protect one's feet from the stone floor; skins are not 
usual. I determined to put on a sailor's cloak which we had 
brought with us in fun, and it did me good service, especially 
when I tied it round my body with the rope of my box. I 
must have looked very comical, something between a sailor 
and a capuchin. When Tischbein came back from visiting 
some of his friends, and found me in this dress, he could not 
refrain from laughing. 

Naples, Feb. 27, 1787. 
Yesterday I kept quietly at home, in order to get rid of a 
slight bodily ailment. To-day has been a regular carouse, 
and the time passed rapidly while we visited the most 
glorious of objects. Let man talk, describe and paint as he 
may — to be here is more than all. The shore, the creeks, and 
the bay, Vesuvius, the city, the suburbs, the castles, the 
atmosphere ! In the evening, too, we went into the Grotto 
of Posilippo, while the setting sun was shining into it from 
the other side. I can pardon all who lose their senses in 
Naples, and remember with emotion my father, who retained 
to the last an indelible impression of those objects which 
to-day I have cast eyes upon for the first time. Just as it is 
said, that people who have once seen a ghost, are never after- 
vrards seen to smile, so in the opposite sense it may be said 
of him, that he never could become perfectly miserable, so 
long as he remembered Naples. According to my fashion, 
I am quite stiU and cahn, and when anythmg happens too 
absurd, only make large— large eyes. 



Naples, Feb, 28, 1787. 
To-day we visited Philip Hackert, the famous landscape- 
painter, who enjoys the special confidence and peculiar favour 
of the king and the queen. A wing of the palace Franca 
Villa has been assigned to him, which, having furnished it 
with true artistic taste, he feels great satisfaction in in- 
habiting. He is a very precise and prudent personage, 
who, with untiring industry, manages, nevertheless, to enjoy 
life. 



KAPLES THE PKINCE VON WALDECK. 413 

After that we took a sail, and saw all kinds of fish and 
wonderful shapes drawn out of the waves. The day was 
glorious; the tramontane (north winds) tolerable. 



Naples, March 1, 1787. 

Even in Rome my self-\^illed hermit-like humour was 
forced to assume a more social aspect than I altogether liked : 
no doubt it appears a strange beginning to go into the 
world in order to be alone. Accordingly I could not resist 
Prince von Waldeck, who most kindly invited me, and by 
his rank and influence has procured me the enjoyment of 
many privileges. We had scarcely reached Naples, where 
he has been residing a long while, when he sent us an invita- 
tion to pay a visit with him to Puzzuoli and the neighbourhood. 
I was thinking already of Vesuvius for to-day; but Tischbein 
has forced me to take this journey, which, agreeable enough 
of itself, promises from the fine weather, and the society of 
a perfect gentleman, and well-educated prince, very much 
both of pleasui-e and profit. We had also seen in Rome a 
beautiful lady, who with her husband, is inseparable from the 
Prince. She also is to be of the party ; and we hope for a 
most delightful day. 

Moreover, I was intimately known to this noble society, 
having met them previously. The Prince, upon our first 
acquaintance, had asked me what I was then busy with ; and 
the plan of my " Iphigenia ' ' was so fresh in my recollection, that 
I was able one evening to relate it to them cii'cumstantially. 
They entered into it ; still, still I fancied I could observe that 
something livelier and wilder was expected of me. . 

Evening. 
It would be difficult to give an account of this day. How 
often has the cursory reading of a book, which irresistibly 
carries one with it, exercised the greatest influence on a man's 
whole life, and produced at once a decisive efiect, whichneither 
a second perusal nor earnest reflection can either strengthen 
or modify. This I experienced in the case of the " Sakuntala" ; 
and do not great men afiect us somewhat in the same way ? A 
sail to Puzzuoli, little trips by land, cheerful walks through 
the most wonderfid regions in the world ! Beneath the purest 



414 LETTERS mOM ITALY. 

sky the most treacherous soil ; ruins of inconceivable opulence, 
oppressive, and saddening ; boiling waters, clefts exhaling su - 
phur, rocks of slag defying vegetable life, bare forbiddii\g 
tracts, and then at last on all sides the most luxuriant vege- 
tation seizing every spot and cranny possible, running over 
every lifeless object, edging the lakes and brooks, and nour- 
ishing a glorious wood of oak on the brink of an ancient 
crater ! 

And thus one is driven backwards and forwards between 
nature and the history of nations ; one wishes to meditate, and 
soon feels himself quite unfit for it. In the mean time, how- 
ever, the li^dng lives on merrily, with a joyousness which Vv^e 
too would share. Educated persons, belonging to the world and 
the world's ways, but warned by serious events, become, never- 
theless, disposed for reflection. A boundless view of earth, 
sea, and sky,— and then called away to the side of a young and 
amiable lady, accustomed and delighted to receive homage. 

Amidst all this giddy excitement, however, I failed not 
to make many notes. The future reduction of these will be 
greatly facilitated by the map we consulted on the spot, and 
by a hasty sketch of Tischbein's. To-day it is not possible for 
me to make the least addition to these. 



March 2. 
Thursday I ascended Vesuvius, although the weather was 
unsettled, and the summit of the mountain surrounded by 
clouds. I took a carriage as far as E,esina, and then, on the 
back of a mule, began the ascent, having vineyards on both 
sides. Next, on foot, I crossed the lava of the year '71, on the 
surface of which a fine but compact moss was already growing ; 
then upwards on the side of the lava. The hut of the hermit 
on the height, was on my left hand. After this we climbed the 
Ash- hill, which is wearisome walking ; two-thirds of the sum- 
mit were enveloped in clouds. At last we reached the ancient 
crater, now filled up, where we found recent lava, only two 
months and fourteen days old, and also a slight streak of only 
five days, which was, however, already cold. Passing over 
these, we next ascended a height which had been thrown up 
by volcanic action ; it was smoking from all its points. As 
the smoke rolled away from us, I essayed to approach the 
crater ; scarcely, however, had we taken fifty steps in 



KAPLES — •fESTTTIUS. 415 

the steam, wlien it became so dense that I could scarcely 
see my shoes. It was to no pm^pose that we held snuff 
continually before our nostrils. My guide had disappeared; 
and the footing on the lava lately thrown up was very unsteady. 
I therefore thought it right to trun round, and to reserve 
the sight for a finer day, and for less of smoke. However, I 
now know how difficult it is to breathe in such an atmosphere. 

Otherwise, the mountain was quite still. There was no 
flame, no roaring, no stones thrown up — all wMch it usually 
does at most times. I reconnoitered it well, with the intention 
of regularly storming it as soon as the weather shall improve. 

The specimens of lava that I found, were mostly of well- 
known lands. T noticed, however, a phenomenon which 
appeared to me extremely strange, which I intend to examine 
again stiU more closely, and also to consult connoisseurs and 
collectors upon it. It is a stalactite incrustation of a part of 
the volcanic funnel, which has been thrown down, and now 
rears itself in the centre of the old choked-up crater. This mass 
of solid greyish stalactite appears to have been formed by the 
sublimation of the very finest volcanic evaporation, without the 
co-operation of either moistm-e or fusion. It will furnish 
occasion for further thinking. 

To-day, the 3rd of March, the sky is covered with clouds, 
and a sirocco is blowing. For post-day, good weather. 

A very strange medley of men, beautifid houses, and most 
singular fishes are here to be seen in abundance. 

Of the situation of the city, and of its glories, which have 
been so often described and commended, not a word from me. 
" Vede Napoli e poi muori^' is the cry here. " See Naples, 

and die." 

Naples, March 5, 1787. 

That no Neapolitan wiU allow the merits of his city to be 
questioned, that their poets should sing in extravagant hyper- 
bole of the blessings of its site, are not matters to quarrel 
about, even though a pair of Vesuviuses stood in its neighbour- 
hood. Here one can almost cast aside all remembrances, even 
of Rome. As compared with this free, open situation, the 
capital of the world, in the basin of the Tiber, looks like a 
cloister built on a bad site. 

The sea, with its vessels, and their destinaticais, presents 
wholly new matters for reflection. The firigate for Palermo 



ilQ LETTE11& -fi-KOV ITALY. 

started yesterday, with a strong, direct, north, wind. This time 
it certainly will not be more than six-and-thirty hours on the 
passage. With what longing did I not watch the full sails as 
the vessel passed between Capri and Cape Minerva, until at 
last it disappeared. Who could see one's beloved thus saihng 
away and survive ? The sirocco (south vv^ind) is now blowing ; 
if the wind becomes stronger, the breakers over the Mole will 
be glorious. 

To-day being Friday, is the grand promenade of the nobi- 
lity, when every one displays his equipages, and especially his 
stud. It is almost impossible to see finer horses anywhere 
than in Naples. For the first time in my life I have felt an 
interest in these animals. 



Naples, March 3,»1787. 

Here you have a lew leaves, as reporters of the enter- 
tainment I have met with in this place ; also a corner 
of the cover of your letter, stained with smoke, in testi- 
mony of its having been with me on Vesuvius. You must 
not, however, fancy, either in your waldng thoughts or in 
your dreams, that I am surrounded by perils ; be assured 
that wherever I venture, there is no more danger than on the 
road to Belvedere. The earth is everywhere the Lord's; may 
be well said in reference to such objects. I never seek 
adventure out of a mere rage for singularity ; but even because 
I am most cool, and can catch at a glance, the peculiarities of 
any object, I may v/ell do and venture morje than many others. 
The passage to Sicily is anything but dangerous. A few days 
ago, the frigate sailed for Palermo with a favorable breeze 
from the north, and, leaving Capri on the right, has, no doubt, 
accomplished the voyage in six-and-thirty hours. In all such 
expeditions, one finds the danger to be far less in reality than, 
at a distance, one is apt to imagine. 

Of earthquakes, there is not at present a vestige in Lower 
Italy ; in the upper provinces Rimini and its neighbourhood 
has lately sufiered. Thus the earth has strange humours, and 
people talk of earthquakes here just as we do of wind and 
weather, and as in Thuringia they talk of conflagrations. 

I am delighted to find that you are now familiar with the 
two editions of my " Iphigenia," but still more pleased should I 
he had you be^n more sensible of the difference between them. 



ITAPIES— FILAKGIEKI. 417 

I know what I liave done for it, and may well speak thereof, 
since I feel that I could make still further improvements. If it 
be a bliss to enjoy the good, it is still greater happiness to dis- 
cern the better ; for in art the best only is good enough. 

Naples, March, 5, 1787. 

We spent the second Sunday of Lent in visiting church 
after church. As in Eome all is highly solemn ; so here every 
hour is merry and cheerful. The Neapolitan school of painting, 
too, can only be understood in Na^oles. One is astonished to 
see the whole front of a church painted from top to bottom. 
Over the door of one, Christ is driving out of the temple the 
buyers and sellers, who, terribly frightened, are nimbly hud- 
dhng up their wares, and hmTying down the steps on both 
sides. In another church, there is a room over the entrance, 
which is richly ornamented with frescoes representing the 
deprivation of Heliodorus. -'' Luca Giordano must indeed have 
painted rapidly, to fiU such large areas in a lifetime. The 
pulpit, too, is here not always a mere cathedra, as it is in other 
places, — a place where one only may teach at a time ; but a 
gaUery. Along one of these I once saw a Capuchin walking 
backwards and forwards, and, now from one end, now from 
another, reproaching the people with their sins. What had 
he not to teU them ! 

But neither to be told nor to be described is the glory of 
a night of the full moon such as we have enjoyed here, wan- 
dering tln^ough the streets and squares and on the quay, with 
its long promenade, and then backwards and forwards on the 
beach ; one felt really possessed with the feeling of the infinity 
of space. So to dream is really worth all trouble. 



Naples, March 5, 1787. 
I made to-day the acquaintance of an excellent individual, 
and I must briefly give yon a general description of him. It 
is the Chevalier Filangieri, famous for his work on legislation. 
He belongs to those noble young men who wish to promote the 
happiness and the moderate liberty of mankind. In his bearing 

* Heliodorus, Bishop of Tricca, in Thessaly, in the fourth century, author 
of the " (Ethiopics, or, the Amours of Theagenes and Chariclea," was, 
it is said, deprived of his bishoBric for writing this work. — A. W. M. 
Vol. II. 2 e 



418 IiETTEES PROM ITALY. 

you recognise at once the soldier, the chevalier, and the man 
of the world ; but this appearance is softened by an expres- 
sion of tender moral sensibility, which is diffused over his 
whole countenance, and shines forth most agreeably in his 
character and conversation; he is, moreover, heartily at- 
tached to his sovereign and country, even though he cannot 
approve of all that goes on. He is also oppressed with a 
fear of Joseph II. The idea of a despot, even though it only 
floats as a phantom in the air, excites the apprehensions of 
every noble-minded man. He spoke to me without reserve, 
of what Naples had to fear from him ; but in particular he 
was delighted to speak of Montesquieu, Beccaria, and of some 
of his own writings — all in the same spmt of the bestwiU, and 
of a heart full of youthful enthusiasm to do good. And yet he 
may one day be classed with the Thirty. He has also made me 
acquainted with an old writer, from whose inexhaustible depths 
these new Italian friends of legislation derive intense encou- 
ragement and edification. He is called Giambattista Vico, and 
is preferred even to Montesquieu. After a hasty perusal of his 
book, which was lent to me as a sacred deposit, I laid it 
down, saying to myself. Here are sybiUine anticipations of 
good and right, which once must, or ought to be, realised, 
drawn apparently from a serious contemplation both of the 
past and of the present. It is well when a nation possesses 
such a forefather : the Germans wiU one day receive a similar 
codex from Hamann, 



Naples, March 6, 1787. 

Most reluctantly, yet, for the sake of good-fellowship, Tiscb. 
bein accompanied me to-day to Vesuvius. To him — the artist 
of form, who concerns himself with none but the most beau- 
tiful of human and animal shapes, and one also whose taste 
and judgment lead to humanise even the formless rock and 
landscape, — such a frightful and shapeless conglomeration of 
matter, which, moreover, is continually preying on itself, and 
proclaiming war against every idea of the beautiful, must have 
appeared utterly abominable. 

We started in two caleches, as we did not trust ourselves to 
drive through the crowd and whirl of the city. The drivers kept 
up an incessant shouting at the top of their voice whenes^er don- 
keys with theiv loads of wood or rubbish, or rolling caleches 



NAPLES ASCEKT OF VESUVIUS. 419 

met us, or else warning the porters with their burdens, or 
other pedestrians, whether children or old people to get out 
of the way. All the while, however, they drove at a sharp 
trot, without the least stop or check. 

As you get into the remoter suburbs and gardens, the 
road soon begins to show signs of a Plutonic action. For 
as we had not had rain for a long time, the naturally ever- 
green leaves were covered with a thick gray and ashy dust ; 
so that the glorious blue sky, and the scorching sun which 
shone down upon us, were the only signs that we were still 
among the living. 

At the foot of the steep ascent, we were received by two 
guides, one old, the other young, but both active fellows. 
The fii'st pulled me up the path, the other Tischbein, — 
pulled I say, for these guides are girded roimd the waist 
with a leathern belt, which the traveller takes hold of, and 
being di-awn up by his guide, makes his way the easier with foot 
and staff. In this manner we reached the flat from which the 
cone rises : towards the north lay the ruins of the Somma. 

A glance westwards over the country beneath us, removed, 
as well as a bath could, all feeling of exhaustion and fatigue, and 
we now went round the ever-smoking cone, as it threw out its 
stones and ashes. Wherever the space allowed of our viewing 
it at a sufficient distance, it appeared a grand and elevating 
spectacle. In the first place, a violent thundering toned forth 
from its deepest abyss, then stones of larger and smaller sizes 
were showered into the airby thousands, and enveloped by clouds 
of ashes. The greatest part fell again into the gorge ; the rest 
of the fragments, receiving a lateral inclination, and falling on 
the outside of the crater, made a marvellous rumbling noise. 
Pirst of all the larger masses plumped against the side, and 
rebounded with a duU heavy sound ; then the smaller came 
rattling down ; and last of all, drizzled a shower of ashes. 
All this took place at regular intervals, which by slowly count- 
ing, we were able to measm-e pretty accurately. 

Between the Somma, however, and the cone the space is 
narrow enough ; moreover, several stones fell around us, and 
made the circuit anything but agreeable. Tischbein now felt 
more disgusted than ever with Vesuvius, as the monster, not 
content with being hateful, showed an inclination to become 
mischievous also. 

2 E 2 



420 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

As, however, tlie presence of danger generally exercises on 
■man a kind of attraction, and calls forth a spirit of opposition in. 
the human breast to defy it, I bethought myself that, in the 
interval of the eruptions, it would be possible to climb up the 
cone to the crater, and to get back before it broke out again. 
I held a council on this point with our guides under one of 
the overhanging rocks of the Somma, where, encamped in 
safety, we refreshed ourselves with the provisions we had 
brought with us. The younger guide was willing to run the 
risk with me ; we stuffed our hats full of linen and silk 
handkerchiefs, and, staff in hand, we prepared to start, I 
holding on to his girdle. 

The little stones were yet rattling around us, and the ashes 
still drizzHng, as the stalwart youth hm-ried forth with mo 
across the hot glowing rubble. We soon stood on the brink 
of the vast chasm, the smoke of which, although a gentle air 
was bearing it away from us, unfortunately veiled the interior 
of the crater, which smoked all round from a thousand 
crannies. At intervals, however, we caught sight through 
the smoke of the cracked walls of the rock. The view was 
neither instructive nor delightful; but for the very reason 
that one saw nothing, one lingered in the hope of catching a 
glimpse of something more ; and so we forgot our slow 
counting. We were standing on a narrow ridge of the vast 
abyss : of a sudden the thunder pealed aloud ; we ducked our 
heads involuntarily, as if that would have rescued us from the 
precipitated masses. The smaller stones soon rattled, and 
without considering that we had again an interval of cessa- 
tion before us, and only too much rejoiced to have outstood 
the danger, we rushed down and reached the foot of the 
hill, together with the drizzling ashes, which pretty thickly 
covered our heads and shoulders , 

Tischbein was heartily glad to see me again. After a 
little scolding and a little refreshment, I was able to give my 
especial attention to the old and new lava. And here the 
elder of the guides was able to instruct me accurately in the 
signs by which the age of the several strata was indicated. 
The older were already covered with ashes, aiid rendered 
quite smooth ; the newer, especially those which had cooled 
slowly, presented a singular appearance. As, sliding along, 
they carried away with them the solid objects which lay im 



NAPLES AN ANTIQUE A HOUSE S HEAD. 421 

the surface, it necessarily happened that from time to time se- 
veral would come into contact with each other, and these again 
being swept still further by the molten stream, and pushed one 
over the other, would eventually form a solid mass with won- 
derful jags and corners, still more strange even than the some- 
what similarly formed piles of the icebergs. Among this fused 
and waste matter I found many great rocks, which, bein^ 
struck with a hammer, present on the broken face a perfect 
resemblance to the primeval rock formation. The guides 
maintained that these were old lava from the lowest depths 
■of the mountain, which are very often thrown up by the 
volcano. 



Upon our retm'n to Naples, we noticed some small houses 
of only one story, and of a remarkable appearance and 
singular build, without windows, and receiving all their 
light from the doors, which opened on the road. The inha- 
bitants sit before them at the door from the morning: to the 
night, when they at last retire to their holes. 



"C3 



The city, which in the evening is all of a timiult, though of 
a different kind from the day, extorted from me the wish 
that I might be able to stay here for some time, in order to 
sketch to the best of my powers the moving scene. It will 
not, however, be possible. 



Naples, Wednesday, March 7, 1787. 
This week Tischbein has shown to me, and without reserve 
commented upon, the greater part of the artistic treasures of 
Naples. An excellent judge and di-awer of animals, he had 
long before called my attention to a horse's head in brass in 
the Palace Columbrano : we went there to-day. This relic of 
art is placed in the com-t right opposite the gateway, in a 
niche over a well, and really excites one's astonishment. 
What must have been the effect of the whole head and body 
together ? The perfect horse must have been far larger than 
those at S. Mark's : moreover, the head alone, when closely 
viewed, enables you distinctly to recognise and admire the 
■character and spirit of the animal. The splendid frontal 



422 liETTEES FEOM ITALY. 

bones, the snorting nostrils, the pricked ears, tlie stiff mane, 
— a strong, excited, and spirited creature ! 

We tm^ned ronnd to notice a female statne which stands in 
a niche over the gateway. It has been already described by 
Winckelmann as an imitation of a dancing girl, with the 
remark, that such artistes represent to us in living move- 
ment, and under the greatest variety, that beauty of form 
which the masters of statuary exhibit in the (as it were) 
petrified nymphs and goddesses. It is very light and beau- 
tiful ; the head, which had been broken off, has been skilfully 
set on again : otherwise it is nowise injured, and most assu- 
redly deserves a better place. 



Naples. 

To-day I received your dear letter of the 16th February ;^^ 
only, keep on writing. I have made arrangements for the for- 
warding of my letters, and I shall continue to do so, if I move 
further. Quite strange does it seem to me to read that my 
friends do not often see each other ; and yet perhaps nothing 
is more common than for men not to meet who are living close 
together. 

The weather here has become dull : a change is at han(3. 
Spring is commencing, and we shall soon have some rainy 
days. The summit of Vesuvius has not been clear since I 
paid it a visit. These few last nights flames have been seen to 
issue from it ; to-day it is keeping itself quiet, and therefore 
more violent eruptions are expected. 

The storms of these last few days have shown to us a 
glorious sea ; it is at such times that the waves may be 
studied in their worthiest style and shape. Nature, indeed, 
is the only book which presents important matter on all its 
pages. On the other hand, the theatres have ceased to fur- 
nish any amusement. During Lent nothing but operas, 
which differ in no respect from more profane ones but by the 
absence of ballets between the acts; in all other respects 
they are as gay as possible. In the theatre of S. Carlo they 
are representing the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebu- 
chadnezzar : to me it is only a great raree-show ; my taste 
is quite spoilt for such things. 

To-day we were with the Prince von Waldeck at Capo di 



jS^ailes, 423 

Monte, where tliere is a great collection of paintings, coins, 
&c. It is not well arranged, but the things themselves are 
above praise : we can now correct and confirm many tradi- 
tional ideas. Those coins, gems, and vases which, like the 
stnnted citron-trees, come to us in the north one by one, 
have quite a difierent look here in the mass, and, so to speak, 
in their own home and native soil. For where works of art 
are rare, their very rarity gives them a value ; here we learn 
to treasure none but the intrinsically valuable. 

A very high price is at present given for Etruscan vases, 
and certainly beautiful and excellent pieces are to be found 
among them. Not a traveller but wishes to possess some 
specimen or other of them ; one does not seem to value 
money here at the same rate as at home : I fear that I 
myself shall yet be tempted. 



Naples, Friday, March 9, 1787. 

This is the pleasant part of travelling, that even ordinary 
matters, by their novelty and unexpectedness, often acquire 
the appearance of an adventure. As I came back from Capo di 
Monte, I paid an evening visit to Filangieri, and saw sitting 
on the sofa, by the side of the mistress of the house, a lady 
whose external appearance seemed to agree but little with the 
familiarity and easy manner she indulged in. In a light, 
striped, silk gown of very ordinary texture, and a most sin- 
gular cap, by way of head-dress, but of a pretty figure, she 
looked like some poor dressmaker who, taken up with the 
care of adorning the persons of others, had little time to 
bestow on her own external appearance ; such people are so 
accustomed to expect their labours to be remunerated, that 
they seem to have no idea of working gratis for themselves. 
She did not allow her gossip to be at all checked by my arrival, 
but went on talking of a number of ridiculous adventures which 
had happened to her that day, or which had been occasioned 
by her own hrusquerie and impetuosity. 

The lady of the house wished to help me to get in a word 
or two, and spoke of the beautiful site of Capo di Monte, and 
of the treasures there. Upon this the lively lady sprang up 
with a good high jump from the sofa, and as she stood on her 
feet- seemed still prettier than before. She took leave, and 



424 LETTERS rB,OM ITAl.'!?. 

running to the door, said, as she passed me, " The Filangien 
are coming one of these days to dine with me — I hope to 
see you also." She was gone before I could say yes. I now 

learnt that she was the Princess , a near relative to the 

master of the house. '^' The Filangieri were not rich, and lived 
in a becoming but moderate style ; and such I presumed was 
the case with my little Princess, especially as such titles are 
anything but rare in Naples. I set down the name, and the 
day and hour, and left them, without any doubt but that I 
should be found at the right place in due time. 



Naples, Sunday, March 11, 1787. 

As my stay in Naples cannot be long, I take the most remote 
points first of all — the near throw themselves, as it were, in 
one's way. I have been with Tischbein to Pompeii, and on 
our road all those glorious prospects which were already well 
known to us from, many a landscape drawing, lay right and 
left, dazzling us by their number and unbroken succession. 

Pompeii amazes one by its narrowness and littleness ; con- 
fined streets, but perfectly straight, and furnished on both 
sides with a foot pavement ; little houses without windows, the 
rooms being lit only by the doors, which opened on the atrium 
and the galleries. Even the public edifices, the tomb at the 
gate, a temple, and also a villa in its neighbourhood, are like 
models and dolls' houses, rather than real buildings. The 
rooms, corridors, galleries and all, are painted with bright 
and cheerful colours, the wall surfaces uniform ; in the middle 
some elaborate painting (most of these have been removed) ; on 
the borders and at the corners, light tasteful arabesques, 
terminating in the pretty figures of nymphs or children ; while 
in others, from out of garlands of flowers, beasts, wild and 
tame, are issuing. Thus does the city, which first of all the 
hot shower of stones and ashes overwhelmed, and afterwards 
the excavators plundered, still bear witness, even in its pre- 
sent utterly desolate state, to a taste for painting and the 
arts common to the whole people, of which the most enthusi- 
astic dilettante of the present day has neither idea nor feelings 
and so misses not 

* Filangieri's sister. 



NAPLES—VISIT TO POMPEII. 425 

When one considers the distance of this tovm from Vesu- 
vius, it is clear that the volcanic matter which overwhelmed 
it could not have been carried hither either by any sudden 
impetus of the mountain, or by the wind. We must rather 
suppose that these stones and ashes had been floating for a 
time in the air, like clouds, until at last they fell upon the 
doomed city, 

In order to form a clear and precise idea of this event, one 
has only to think of a mountain village buried in snow. The 
spaces between the houses, and indeed the crushed houses 
themselves, were filled up ; however, it is not improbable that 
some of the mason- work may, at different points, have peeped 
above the sm-face, and in this way have excited the notice 
of those by whom the hill was broken up for vineyards 
and gardens. And, no doubt, many an owner, on digging ^ 
up his own portion, must have made valuable gleanings. Se- 
veral rooms were found quite empty, and in the corner of one 
a heap of ashes was observed, under which a quantity of 
household articles and works of art was concealed. 

The strange, and in some degree unpleasant impressiop 
which this mummied city leaves on the mind, we got rid 
of, as, sitting in the arbour of a little inn close to the sea 
(where we dispatched a frugal meal), we revelled in the blue 
sky, the glaring ripple of the sea, and the bright sunshine ; and 
cherished a hope that, when the vine-leaf should again cover 
the hill, we might all be able to pay it a second visit, and 
once more enjoy ourselves together on the same spot. 

As we approached the city, we again came upon the little cot- 
tages, which now appeared to us perfectly to resemble those in 
Pompeii. We obtained permission to enter one, and found it 
extremely clean — neatly-platted rush-bottomed chairs, a buffet, 
covered all over with gilding, or painted with variegated 
flowers, and highly varnished. Thus, after so many centuries, 
and such numberless changes, this country instils into its 
inhabitants the same customs and habits of hfe, the same incli- 
nations and tastes. 



Naples, Mo7idmj, March 12, 1787. 
To-day, according to my custom- 1 have gone slowly through 
the city, noting several points, foi»' a future description of it, 
of which unfortunately I cannot commimicate anything to- 



426 LETTERS EEOM ITALY. 

day. All tends to this one conclusion : that a highly-favored 
land, which furnishes in abundance the chief necessaries of 
existence, produces men also of a happy disposition, who, with- 
out trouble or anxiety, trust to to-morrow to bring them what 
to-day has been wanting, and consequently live on in a light- 
hearted careless sort of life. Momentary gratification, moderate 
enjoyments, a passing sorrow, and a cheerful resignation ! 

The morning has been cold and damp, with a little rain. In 
my walk I came upon a spot where the great slabs of the 
pavement appeared swept quite clean. To my great surprise 
I saw, on this smooth and even spot, a number of ragged boys 
squatting in a circle, and spreading out their hands over the 
ground, ,as if to warm them. At first I took it to be some 
game that they were playing ; when, however, I noticed the 
perfect seriousness and com^posure of their countenances, with 
an expression on it of a gratified want, I therefore put my 
brains to the utmost stretch, but they refused to enlighten me 
as I desired. I was, therefore, obliged to ask what it could 
be that had, induced these little imps to take up this strange 
position, and had collected them in so regular a circle. 

Upon this I was informed that a neighbouring smith had 
been heating the tire of a wheel, and that this is done in the 
following manner : — The iron tire is laid on the pavement, and 
arouhd is as much oak chips as is considered sufficient to 
soften the iron to the required degree. The lighted wood 
burns away, the tire is riveted to the wheel, and the ashes 
carefully swept up. The little vagabonds take advantage of 
the heat communicated to the pavement, and do not leave the 
spot till they have drawn from it the last radiation of warmth. 
Similar instances of contentedness, and sharp-witted profiting 
by what otherwise would be wasted, occur here in great num- 
ber. I notice in this people the most shrewd and active 
industry, not to make riches, but to live free from care. 



Evening. 
In order that I might not make any mistake yesterday, as 
to the house of my odd little princess, and might be there in 
time, I called a hackney carriage. It stopped before the grand 
entrance of a spacious palace. As I had no idea of coming 
to so splendid a dwelling, I repeated to him most distinctly 



'NAPLES — A DINISTEH PAETY, 427 

the name ; he assured me it was quite right."^ I soon found 
myself in a spacious court, still and lonesome, empty and 
clean, enclosed by the principal edifice and side buildings. 
The architecture was the well-known light Neapolitan style, 
as was also the colouring. Right before me was a grand porch, 
and a broad but not very high flight of steps. On both sides 
of it stood a line of servants, in splendid liveries, who, as I 
passed them, bowed very low. I thought myself the Sultan 
in Wieland's fairy tale, and after his example, took courage. 
Next I was received by the upper domestics, till at last the 
most courtly of them opened a door, and introduced me into 
a spacious apartment, which was as splendid, but also as 
empty of people as all before. In passing backwards and 
forwards I observed, in a side-room, a table laid out for about 
forty persons, with a splendour corresponding with all around. 
A secular priest now entered, and without asking who I was-,. 
or whence I came, approached me as if I were already knowa 
to him, and conversed on the most common-place topics. 

A pair of folding doors were now thrown open and imme- 
diately closed again, as a gentleman rather advanced in years 
entered. The priest immediately proceeded towards him, as 
I also did ; we greeted him with a few words of courtesy, 
which he retm-ned in a barking stuttering tone, so that I 
could scarcely make out a syllable of his Hottentot dialect. 
When he had taken his place by the stove, the priest 
moved away, and I accompanied him. A portly Benedictine 
entered, accompanied by a younger member of his order. 
He went to salute the host, and after being also barked at, 
retired to a window. The regular clergy, especially those 
whose di'ess is becoming, have great advantage in society ; 
their costume is a mark of humility and renunciation of self, 
while, at the same time it lends to its wearers a decidedly 
dignified appearance. In their behaviour they may easily, 
without degrading themselves, appear submissive and com- 
plying; and then again, when they stand upon their own 
dignity, their self-respect sits well upon them, although in 
others it would not be so readily allowed to pass. This was 
the case with this person. When I asked him about Monte 
Cassino, he immediately gave me an invitation thither, and 
promised me the best of welcomes. In the meanwhile tho 
room had become full of people ; officers, people of the court, 



428 liETTERS rHOM ITALY. 

more regulars, and even some Capuchins, had arrived. Once 
more a set of folding-doors opened and shut ; an aged lady, 
somewhat older than my host, had entered; and now the 
presence of what I took to be the lady of the house, made 
me feel perfectly confident that I was in a strange mansion, 
where I was wholly unknown to its owners. Dinner was now 
served, and I was keeping close to the side of my friends the 
monks, in order to slip with them into the paradise of the 
dining-room, when all at once I saw Fflangieri, with his 
wife, enter and make his excuses for being so late. Shortly 
after this my little princess came into the room, and with 
nods, and winks, and bows to all as she passed, came straight 
to me. — " It is very good of you to keep your word," she 
exclaimed ; " mind you sit by me, — you shall have the best 
bits, — wait a minute though ; I must find out which is my 
proper place, then mind and take your place by me." Thus 
-commanded, I followed the various windings she made ; and at 
last we reached our seats, having the Benedictine right oppo- 
site and Filangieri on my other side. " The dishes are aU 
good," she observed, — " all lenten fare, but choice : I'll point 
out to you the best. But now I must rally the priests, — 
the churls! I can't bear them; every day they are cutting c 
fresh slice off om^ estate. What we have, we should like 
to spend on ourselves and our friends." The soup was now 
handed round, — the Benedictine was sipping his very deli- 
berately. "Pray don't put yom-self out of your way, — ^the 
spoon is too small, I fear ; I will bid them bring you a larger 
one. Your reverences are used to a good mouthful." The 
good father replied, — " In your house, lady, every thing is 
so excellent, and so well arranged, that much more distin- 
guished guests than your humble servant would find every- 
thing to their heart's content." 

Of the pasties the Benedictine took only one ; she called 
out to him, — "Pray take half a dozen; pastry, your reverence 
surely knows, is easy of digestion." With good sense he 
took another pastj^, thanking the princess for her attention, 
just as if he had not seen through her malicious raillery. 
And 60, also, some solid paste-work furnished her with occa- 
sion for venting her spite; for, as the monk helped himself 
to a piece, a second rolled off the dish towards his plate, — > 
* A third! yout reverence* you seem anxious to lay a 



NAPLES ^A DINWEH PAHTY. 429 

foundation!" — " When such excellent materials are furnished 
to his hand, the architect's labours are easy," rejoined his 
reverence. Thus she ^yent on continually, only pausing 
awhile to keep her promise of pointing out to me the best 
dishes. 

All this while I was conversing with my neighbour on the 
gravest topics. Absolutely, I never heard Filangieri utter 
an unmeaning sentence. In this respect, and indeed in many 
others, he resembles our worthy friend, George Schlosser, 
with this difference, that the former, as a Neapolitan, and a 
man of the world, had a softer nature and an easier manner. 

During the whole of this time my roguish neighbour 
allowed the clerical gentry not a moment's truce. Above all, 
the fish at this lenten meal, dished up in imitation of flesh of 
all kinds, furnished her with inexhaustible opportunities for 
all manner of irreverent and ill-natm^ed observations ; espe- 
cially in justification and defence of a taste for flesh, she 
observed that people would have the form to give a relish^ 
even when the essence was prohibited. 

Many more such jokes were noticed by me at the time, but 
I am not in the humour to repeat them. Jokes of this kind, 
fresh spoken, and falling from beautiful lips, may be tolerable, 
not to say amusing, but set down in black and white, they 
lose all charm, for me at least. Then again, the boldly hazarded 
stroke of wit has this peculiarity, that at the moment it 
pleases us while it astonishes us by its boldness, but wheis 
told afterwards, it sounds offensive, and disgusts us. 

The dessert was brought in, and I was afraid that the 
cross-fire would still be kept up, when suddenly my fair 
neighbour tm*ned quite composedly to me and said, — " The 
priests may gulp their Syi^acusan wine in peace, for I can- 
not succeed in worrying a single one to death, — no, not even 
in spoiling their appetites. Now, let me have some rational 
talk with you ; for what a heavy sort of thing must a conver- 
sation with Filangieri be ! The good creature ; he gives him- 
self a great deal of trouble for nothing. I often say to him, if 
you make new laws, we must give ourselves fresh pains to 
find out how we can forthwith transgress them, just as we 
have already set at naught the old. Only look now, how 
beautiful Naples is ! For these many years the people have 
lived free from care and contented, and if now and then 



430 I/ETTEHS rSOM ITALY. 

some poor wretcli is hanged, all the rest still pursue their own 
merry eoiu^se." She then proposed that I should pay a visit 
to Sorrento, where she had a large estate ; her steward would 
feast me with the best of fish, and the delicious mungana, 
(flesh of a sucking calf). The mountain air, and. the un- 
equalled prospect, would be sure to cure me of all philosophy, 
— then she would come herself, and not a trace should remain 
of aU my wrinkles, which, by the bye, I had allowed to grow 
before their time, and together we would have a right merry 
time of it. 



Naples, March 13, 1787. 

To-day also I write you a few lines, in order that letter 
may provoke letter. Things go well with me — ^however, I 
see less than I ought. The place induces an indolent and 
easy sort of life ; nevertheless, my idea of it is gradually 
becoming more and more complete. 

On Sunday we were in Pompeii. Many a calamity has 
happened in the world, but never one that has caused so much 
entertainment to posterity as this one. I scarcely know of 
anything that is more interesting. The houses are small and 
close together, but within they are all most exquisitely painted. 
The gate of the city is remarkable, with the tombs close to it. 
The tomb of a priestess, a semicircular bench, with a stone 
back, on which was the inscription cut in large characters. 
Over the back you have a sight of the sea and the setting sun 
— a glorious spot, worthy of the beautiful idea. 

We found there good and merry company from Naples ; 
the men are perfectly natural and light-hearted. We took 
om- dinner at the " Torre del' Annunziata," with our table 
placed close to the sea. The day was extremely fine. The 
view towards Castell a Mare and Sorrento, near and incompa- 
rable. My companions were quite rapturous in praise of their 
native place ; some asserted that without a sight of the sea it 
A',-as impossible to live. To me it is quite enough that I have 
its image in my soul, and so, when the time comes, may safely 
return to my mountain home. 

Fortunately, there is here a very honest painter of land- 
scLipes, who imparts to his pieces the veiy impression of the 



]S^APLES— POMPEII — POETICI. 431 

rich and open country around. He has akeady executed some 
sketches for me. 

The Vesuvian productions I have now pretty well studied ; 
things, however, assume a different signification when one 
sees them in connection. Properly, I -ought to devote the 
rest of my life to observation : I should discover much that 
would enlarge man's knowledge. Pray tell Herder that my 
botanical discoveries are continually advancing ; it is still the 
same principle, but it requires a whole life to work it out. 
Perhaps I am already in a situation to draw the leading lines 
of it. 

I can now enjoy myself at the museum of Portici. Usually 
people make it the first object, — we mean to make it our last. 
As yet I do not know whether I shall be able to extend my 
tour ; all things tend to drive me back to Rome at Easter. I 
shall let things take their course. 

Angelica has undertaken to paint a scene out of my " Iphi- 
genia." The thought is a very happy subject for a picture, 
and she will delineate it excellently. It is the moment when 
Orestes finds himself again in the presence of his sister and 
his friend. What the three characters are saying to each 
other she has indicated by the grouping, and given theis 
words in the expressions of their countenances. From thir 
description you may judge how keenly sensitive she is, and 
how quick she is to seize whatever is adapted to her nature. 
And it is really the turning point of the whole drama. 

Fare you well, and love me ! Here the people are all very 
good, even though they do not know what to make of me. 
Tischbein, on the other hand, pleases them far better. This 
evening he hastily painted some heads of the size of life, and 
about which they disported themselves as strangely as the 
New Zealanders at the sight of a ship of war. Of this an 
amusing anecdote. 

Tischbein has a great Iniack of etching with a pen the 
shapes of gods and heroes, of the size of life, and even more. 
He uses very few lines, but cleverly puts in the shades with a 
')road pencil, so that the heads stand out roundly and nobly. 
The bystanders looked on with amazement, and were highly 
delighted. At last an itching seized their fingers to try and 
paint ; they snatched the brushes and painted — one another's 
beards, daubing each other's faces. Was not this an 



432 XETTEHS FBOM ITALY. 

original trait of human nature? And this was done in an 
elegant circle, in the house of one who was himself a clever 
draughtsman and painter ! It is imp